What does an overturned Roe v. Wade mean for Washington state?

After the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, citizens of Washington state are asking what it could mean for them.

On Friday, the high court issued its decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade. The court decided that a 2018 Mississippi state law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional.

Locally, in response to a copy of a Supreme Court decision draft leaked in May, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted, “Not here, not in our lifetime. Washington is and will remain pro-choice. And we will not slow down in the fight to ensure safe, affordable access to every person who needs it.”

Bills Inslee has signed include the Reproductive Parity Act of 2018 and the Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act of 2022.

The Reproductive Parity Act, state law since June 7, 2018, improves access to reproductive health benefits and preventive services for Washingtonians, regardless of income level.

The bill requires health carriers to provide coverage for contraceptive drugs, voluntary sterilization procedures and related doctor visits.

The coverage must be cost-effective and hampers the ability for health carriers to deny coverage for a multitude of reasons, including sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.

The bill also specifies if coverage provides maternity care, it must also provide equivalent coverage to permit the abortion of the pregnancy.

Finally, health plans may not limit access to abortion services.

The second bill, the Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act, became effective in Washington state June 9.

The act helps to preserve a pregnant person’s ability to access abortion care.

In 1970, Washington became one of the first states to decriminalize abortion before Roe vs. Wade.

In 1991, citizens passed Initiative Measure 120, otherwise known as the Reproductive Privacy Act, which helps to further protect access to abortion services.

The Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act updates the language of the 1991 measure, adding the recognition that transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive people may also get pregnant and require abortion care.

The new law specifies every individual has the right to choose or refuse birth control and the right to choose or refuse to have an abortion.

The state may not interfere with an individual’s right to choose or refuse an abortion, including interference with a decision prior to the viability of the fetus or to protect the individual’s life or health.

Here are some responses from lawmakers and politicians across Washington. Read more at this link.

U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06):

“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. Rick Larsen (WA-02):

“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.”