Gov. Jay Inslee today testified at the public hearing in support of SJR 8202, a bill that would amend Washington state’s constitution to explicitly recognize the right of all Washingtonians to reproductive freedom.
"We are now in a historic fight to maintain reproductive freedom and the right to abortion access," Inslee told legislators. "We cannot be lulled into thinking that this is a past debate. It is a current challenge, and it is a current threat to the women of the state of Washington."
The resolution is one of several bills this session that would protect and enhance patients’ ability to receive abortion care. Other bills would strengthen data privacy protections, improve oversight of hospital mergers that result in reduced access to abortion or gender-affirming care, prohibit cost-sharing for abortion, protects patients and employers, and shields providers and their WA licenses from retribution by other states.
The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last year highlighted the crucial role governors and state legislatures play in protecting access to such care. In the six months since Dobbs, 24 states have banned or severely restricted abortion care.
"Fundamentally, this is an issue of freedom," said Inslee. "It is an issue of freedom to have the most intimate decision of a woman's life to be determined by her, not someone she has never met."
The Guttmacher Institute is tracking abortion bans and restrictions across the country.
Gov. Jay Inslee testifies on Jan. 24 to the state Senate Long-Term Care and Health Committee to advocate for a proposal to enshrine the right of reproductive freedom within the Washington State Constitution.
Washington law is currently among the strongest when it comes to reproductive freedom, but without a constitutional amendment, legislators could enact the same kinds of severe restrictions or bans taking place in other states.
Inslee reiterated that point in response to a comment from a Republican senator that proposals like this are mere “political theater” to stoke fear about what should be considered “settled” law.
"There is a party in our state that wakes up every single morning trying to take away this right from women," said Inslee. "In multiple states, unfortunately, they have done so effectively. And while you have been sitting here for two weeks, there have been multiple bills in THIS legislature to take away this right."
"If you do believe it should be a right, why not put it in the constitution? That's the question that I would ask."