Gov. Inslee signs bills protecting gender-affirming care, abortion rights

SEATTLE — On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed several bills aimed at protecting gender-affirming care and abortion rights.

It was a direct response to a wave of legislation in several states that are trying to curtail or ban both.

Inslee has made it clear that Washington will protect what it sees as individual rights.

At least one bill shields abortion and gender-affirming care patients and providers from prosecution by out-of-state authorities and prevents cooperation with investigations.

Another bill protects healthcare providers in Washington from disciplinary action for providing legal abortion and gender-affirming care in the state.

The bills were signed into law as Montana forced a Democratic state lawmaker out of the state House. Zooey Zephyr is Montana’s first openly transgender lawmaker and will have to legislate away from the house floor.

Zephyr has criticized a GOP-backed bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. Republicans have insisted that Zephyr is being disciplined for not following House rules.

The governor of Idaho also signed laws restricting gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Next January, it will be a felony to provide hormones, puberty blockers or other gender-affirming care to people under 18.

Inslee signed off on the bills in Seattle while flanked by lawmakers and the attorney general, and praised the legislation that was introduced in Washington.

“We know, unfortunately, there are states across the country that are and will be attempting to put (their) tentacles into the state of Washington. We will not allow that,” said Inslee.

Inslee also signed bills protecting abortion rights by eliminating copays and deductibles for the procedure, while also protecting access to the abortion pill Mifepristone.

Inslee singled out Idaho at one point, saying healthcare providers are closing there. He invited them to come operate in Washington.