Washington lawmakers, officials react to Roe v. Wade decision

After Supreme Court justices issued their decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade, lawmakers, politicians and officials responded across Washington.

Here’s what they had to say.

King County Executive Dow Constantine:

Following today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade decision, making abortion illegal in more than a dozen states, King County Executive Dow Constantine issued the following statement, including an announcement of $1 million in emergency funding to ensure safe access to abortion in King County:

“This morning’s ruling by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade is the culmination of a decades-long strategy by right-wing zealots to strip the essential right to abortion care from millions of Americans.

“On a personal level, I am outraged that my daughter will come of age in a society that treats her as a second-class citizen, without authority even over her own body; in a country that lacks basic supports for families, like universal paid family leave and affordable access to quality child care; and in a country with scandalously high rates of maternal and infant mortality.

“Even though Washington state law protects the right to abortion care, we know that neighboring states are poised to impose some of the strictest and most punitive abortion bans our nation has ever seen. Health care providers and public health leaders are bracing for an influx of people traveling to Washington state and King County to obtain an abortion.

“That’s why today I’m announcing $1 million in emergency funding to bolster our response and live up to our values:

  • I’m partnering with Chair Claudia Balducci to ask the County Council to authorize $500,000 to be allocated directly to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, an organization dedicated to helping people secure abortion care in the Pacific Northwest.
  • I will also authorize $500,000 for an emergency fund at Public Health – Seattle & King County to ensure our local healthcare system is able to respond to the surge we know is coming.

“It is clear that the Court’s sinister decision will not actually stop abortions from happening – it will, rather, take us back to a time when abortions were not safe. My administration will continue to support providers, public health workers, women, Trans and Non-Binary people, and families to ensure that King County remains a safe and welcoming place to access abortion care, family planning services, and the right to privacy. I welcome partnership and collaboration from my fellow elected leaders and community advocates as we navigate and respond to the impacts of this anti-American and dangerous decision.”

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell:

“The Supreme Court’s decision is dangerous, outrageous, and an unacceptable step back for generations of women now and to come. Just yesterday, the Supreme Court limited states’ ability to regulate guns, but today declared states can regulate bodies. We know too many states will react quickly and severely to this ruling and we know the consequences of those efforts to restrict reproductive health care will be dire.

“Maternal mortality will increase. Infant mortality will increase. Poverty will rise and positive health outcomes will decline. Women, transgender, and non-binary people will be forced to seek unsafe abortions. The implications of this decision will disproportionately impact women of color, who are already bearing the brunt of child care in this country. Where we can counter this, we must. Seattle will remain a place where we lead with reproductive justice and where abortion and reproductive health care are available to all who seek it.

“More people will come to Seattle from out of state to seek safe and accessible reproductive care, which is why we’re responding to this unprecedented moment in our supplemental budget proposal. Our administration is seeking to invest $250,000 in efforts to expand access to reproductive health care through the Northwest Abortion Access Fund.

“This will complement the City’s support for ongoing efforts led by Seattle-King County Public Health to link residents to reproductive health care through Community Health Partnership, School-Based Health Centers, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Mobile Medical Vans.

“As states enact and engage in punitive and reactionary efforts to enforce this regressive assault on their constituents’ bodies, our Seattle Police Department will not participate in enforcing the criminal laws of other states that are inconsistent with Washington laws and values.

“Men have an obligation to stand with the women in our country who have seen their constitutional rights eliminated. A decision like this makes hope difficult and threatens our most precious rights and liberties. However, in Seattle, we reject this decision – full stop – and will ensure our response is based in a united commitment to maintain and expand our city’s embrace of privacy, freedom, and shared values.”

Attorney General Bob Ferguson:

“Today the United States Supreme Court adopted an extremist position and overturned 50 years of precedent upon which Americans have relied. This decision will harm individuals across our country by severely restricting access to safe, legal reproductive health care, and it will strain Washington’s health care network as individuals from Idaho and other states come here seeking the health care they require.

“When the Senate confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the court, I knew this day was possible. Consequently, I told my legal team to start preparing. I will make three promises to Washingtonians:

“As long as I serve in public office, no one will take away Washingtonians’ right to choose. Washingtonians enshrined their right to reproductive freedom into law by voting to pass the Reproductive Privacy Act. I will use every tool to defend this law, and we will fight every legislative effort to remove these fundamental protections.

“Moreover, I will use my authority to ensure Washington welcomes any individual who comes here to access the fundamental right to reproductive justice. I am already working to protect medical professionals who are prosecuted in other states for providing essential health care services that are legal and protected in Washington.

“Finally, we will look for opportunities to bring or support legal efforts to overturn this extreme opinion. My legal team challenged President Trump’s ‘gag rule’ in federal court in Eastern Washington and won a nationwide injunction. We helped defeat Trump’s contraception access rule. We will never stop fighting for reproductive justice.”

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA):

“This is a sad and tragic day in America. Millions of Americans are losing their rights to control their own bodies and their own healthcare.

“Despite decades of Republican Supreme Court nominees coming before the Judiciary Committee and saying that they believe Roe v. Wade is settled law, they have taken a sledgehammer to the right to privacy.

“Some of our state’s biggest employers could be asked to give personal reproductive data to states that criminalize abortion. That’s why, as one step, I co-sponsored the My Body, My Data Act, which would give Americans strong, enforceable rights to protect their most sensitive health information.

“We know that 70% of Americans did not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. They want these rights upheld. Mainstream Americans have counted on this right, depended on this right, exercised this right, and now several justices on the Supreme Court are going back on their word and upending settled law to take this right away.

“Americans could now be criminalized for exercising their personal right of if and when to start a family, and be at risk of suffering life-altering pregnancy complications or death — and their doctors and nurses could be thrown in jail.

“I am hopeful that Americans will respond, as we always have when our rights are taken away. The 70% of Americans who agree must have their voices heard on the constitutional right to privacy. I’m calling on all Americans who believe in this right to exercise their voice and their vote. Every legislative tool and initiative process should be considered.

“As we face attempts to shut down vital health services, now more than ever we need to give our support to the patients who depend on them and the medical professionals who provide them.”

State Senate Republican Leader John Braun, 20th District:

“Today’s decision does not affect the law here in Washington. Even my Democrat colleagues have been quick to point out that our laws protect access to abortion procedures. However, better support for pregnant women who choose to give birth should be a common goal for all of us, regardless of our politics. Compassion and empathy, rather than hostility, should be the universal approach. I’m hoping this is how we all move forward.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA):

“Today, Republicans dragged this country backwards by half a century. Republicans ripped away our rights and made this generation the first generation of American women with fewer rights than their mothers. Republicans are forcing women to stay pregnant and give birth when they don’t want to—no matter the circumstances. Republicans are even passing laws to jail women who get abortions and the doctors who provide them.

“And right here in the Senate, it was Republicans who stacked our Supreme Court with anti-abortion justices, who blocked Democrats’ efforts to protect abortion rights, and who right now are pushing for a federal abortion ban.

“Every American needs to understand that this is a real crisis that will affect millions of people across this country, including here in Washington state—Republicans are pushing for a federal abortion ban and Roe v. Wade is no longer settled law. But we aren’t going to stand idly by while they rip away abortion rights, or go after birth control next. We are going to stand up and fight back with our voices and our votes—to protect the right of every woman to make her own health care decisions. The American people will not forget Republicans’ cruelty—not today, not tomorrow, and not this November.”

U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA):

“I thank God for this day.

“I ask, for the next 50 years and beyond in America, how do we want to define the human rights issue of our generation.

“This #SCOTUS decision marks a chance to restore hope and healing for every person—for moms and their children at every stage of life.

Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley):

“Forty-nine years after the U.S. Supreme Court found a right to abortion hidden in the shadows of the Constitution, the court has finally overturned its decision in Roe v. Wade. The new decision does not make abortion illegal, but rather returns the regulation of abortion to the states.

“The court said the states have a legitimate interest in the preservation of prenatal life and the protection of maternal health and safety. I’ve always believed that. This was the issue that motivated me to run for the Legislature, back in 1980.

“In the state of Washington, we have a lot of work to do to get some reasonable limits to the radical extremist pro-abortion policy that allows abortion at any time, for any reason. We now can take another look at some of the proposals that have been introduced in the past, such as parental notification, the elimination of sex-selection abortions, the elimination of abortions based on Down’s Syndrome, and a ban on late-term abortions. These are reasonable laws that would be supported by the vast majority of citizens in our state, and the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case at last allows the people to have a voice.”

U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA):

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is outrageous – and tragically, a threat to women’s health everywhere. We know that at least 25 states are expected to severely limit or ban abortion in the wake of this ruling – and Republicans in even more states, including Washington, will now undoubtedly make efforts to limit access to reproductive health care. In addition, Republicans in Congress have made clear that they intend to pass a federal abortion ban, putting health and safety at risk.

“Let me be clear: decisions about reproductive health care, including abortions, are best made by women in consultation with their doctors. These deeply personal decisions should not be interfered with or replaced by the judgment of politicians. That’s why I’ve strongly opposed efforts to roll back reproductive rights. It’s why I voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine the rights granted under Roe v. Wade into federal law. I’ll keep pushing for federal action to protect reproductive rights.

“I am deeply concerned about the threat that this decision presents for reproductive freedom and about the potential that this decision could lead to the erosion of further rights that we hold dear. We cannot – and should not – accept a future in which the next generation of Americans have fewer rights than their parents.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA):

“Today, a decades-long project of the extreme right-wing has come to fruition: the Supreme Court has overturned the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade. As one of the one in four women in this country who has had an abortion, I am outraged for what this will mean for those who need abortion care — particularly those who will be most harmed by this decision: Black and Brown women, those who live in rural areas or have lower incomes and can’t afford to cross state lines for care, young people and LGBTQ people, and women in abusive relationships. The Supreme Court has now mandated forced pregnancy, taking away an intensely personal freedom for pregnant people to make decisions about our own bodies with a doctor or loved one, and instead bringing politicians into your decision and your bedroom. Every woman, every family, every pregnant person should fear what this means for their futures.

“As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I am furious that right-wing extremists and Republican Senators have warped the Supreme Court into a partisan political body that does not respect decades of precedent or the fundamental freedoms of millions of Americans. These five justices were appointed by two presidents who lost the popular vote, yet have overturned what was a 7-2 decision in 1973, a decision that 69 percent of Americans across the political spectrum support today and that Americans have considered settled for half a century. This decision makes it clear that this Supreme Court is far out of step with the American people and taking us backwards, not forward.

“It is important that Americans understand that this Supreme Court and Republicans in Congress will not stop here. In the opinion, Justice Alito says explicitly that the Court should reconsider ‘all substantive due process precedents,’ including right to contraception, to same-sex marriage, and to same-sex relationships. It is clear he and the Court’s majority have no respect for other precedents that have been won in recent decades. This Supreme Court is out of touch with the American people and increasingly suffers a legitimacy crisis.

“House Democrats have passed bills to protect LGBTQ rights and abortion rights, as well as to end discriminatory insurance coverage bans on abortion to expand access — but all have been blocked by Republicans in the Senate. Those Senators who voted no have an obligation to reconsider their decision — and the devastation facing this country if they don’t. We need to reform the filibuster, so a Jim Crow procedure is not standing the way of action to protect people’s human rights. But we also clearly need not just a Democratic majority, but a clear pro-choice majority in the Senate, as we do in the House. All of us must continue to take this righteous anger to the streets and to the voting booths. But most immediately, we must channel our anger into organizing and make it clear the right to abortion is on the ballot this November.”

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA):

“Today is a dark day in American history. An activist conservative court has stripped women in this country of their right to make their own health care decisions and thrown out nearly 50 years of legal precedent under Roe v. Wade.

“This decision represents the culmination of a decades-long effort by Republicans to undermine the basic human rights of millions of Americans, their privacy, and their bodily autonomy. Nothing in my lifetime has threatened the legitimacy of the court more than this decision.

“The burden of this decision will be felt disproportionately by lower-income women and women of color. They will now have to travel hundreds of miles to receive an abortion if they have the resources or be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will.

“States like Washington will not be immune from this decision. Our abortion clinics are bracing for a rush of patients from states with abortion bans. Republicans have been clear that they will pursue a nationwide abortion ban should they take back control of Congress.

“While this is a demoralizing and terrifying day for America, I urge everyone not to give in to despair and to continue standing up for what you believe in. I will keep fighting until we pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and enshrine this right into law once and for all.”

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA):

“For nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade guaranteed the right to choose. The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade is wrong, but we are not powerless to fight back.

“The Senate must suspend the filibuster and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to explicitly safeguard the right to an abortion under federal law, including federal prohibitions against extreme state laws that restrict reproductive health and prohibit unwarranted restrictions singling out abortion services and providers.

“Washington will continue to be a state that strongly supports the right to choose, and a state that will fight to ensure access to safe, affordable reproductive health care to every person that needs it.”

Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda:

“Cities like Seattle will continue to be a safe haven for individuals looking for access to comprehensive healthcare which includes abortions, and value reproductive freedom. We need to show our support not only with statements but actions including funding for safe abortions. We need to make sure we protect people seeking care by implementing and enforcing policies to prevent harassment and disruption at abortion clinics, including safety regulations and anti-nuisance regulations. Cities will continue to be the forefront of protecting our most vulnerable, and we will come together to fight to make reproductive justice a reality in Seattle.”

Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver):

“As a woman and as a lifelong advocate for reproductive choice, I was appalled to see the Court reverse 50 years of legal precedents that protect the right to choose.

“The right to an abortion has been settled law for generations. When the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in 1973, my grandmother shared with me the importance and life changing impact it would have on our country. I made a promise to her then to protect that right for the next generations, and yet today my grown daughter is facing a country without choice.

“Here in Washington, we proactively took action in this year’s legislative session. We passed HB 1851 to codify the reproductive rights of Washington residents and those who seek abortion services in Washington into state law.

“This new law ensures that physician assistants, advance registered nurse practitioners and other providers acting within their scope of practice may perform the full range of reproductive care, including abortions. It also prohibits the state from taking action against someone based on a pregnancy outcome or for assisting someone who is pregnant in exercising their right to reproductive freedom.

“The high court’s radical reversal of 50 years of existing law is a valuable reminder that our state can, and must, pass laws to protect Washingtonians’ rights from those who would discard legal precedent and recast our laws to satisfy ideological agendas.

“As the state senator for the 49th District and the chair of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee, I am proud to have voted to preserve the fundamental right to choose for the people in my district and across our state, and I stand in anger and solidarity with those across the nation impacted by this dangerous decision.”

Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-WA)

This decision is a full-on assault on women’s freedoms that rolls back the fundamental right of reproductive choice in America. This decision will also have dangerous consequences for women and families in the South Sound, and across this country. It means that 26 states can now move quickly to ban abortion - with millions of women losing access to reproductive health care. And it is a dangerous step toward the ultimate goal of the extreme, anti-women movement: A nationwide abortion ban that would block a woman’s right to choose access in every state in the country, including Washington.

“Because of this decision favoring state rights, desegregation of schools (Brown v. Board of Education), gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges), interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia), and other federally-protected rights are now in danger. This decision is a threat to the health, safety, economic security, and basic freedoms that we cherish.

“I will never stop fighting in Congress to ensure that safe and legal abortion and family planning care are available to all. I will always support a woman’s right to choose, and I will fight all attempts to restrict access to reproductive health care. I will continue to support funding for Planned Parenthood, and I will keep fighting to ensure that our service members receive the quality, safe reproductive health care they deserve.”