West coast states commit to being safe haven for people seeking abortions, reproductive healthcare

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Inslee announced that Washington state is expanding its vaccine mandate to include all public, charter and private school teachers and staff, as well as those working at the state's colleges and universities. The governor also expanded the statewide indoor mask mandate in place for non-vaccinated individuals to include those who are vaccinated.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The governors of Washington, California and Oregon are launching a multi-state commitment to be safe havens for all people seeking abortions and other reproductive healthcare. 

The Multi-State Commitment affirms the governors’ commitment to defend access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion and contraceptives. The effort also commits to protecting patients and doctors against efforts by other states to export their abortion bans to these Western states. 

The announcement comes as the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Roe v. Wade, which in turn bans abortions in multiple states. 

READ: Idaho will ban most abortions after US Supreme Court ruling

“The law remains unchanged in Washington state, but the threat to patient access and privacy has never been more dangerous. Even in Washington state, Republicans have introduced about 40 bills in the past six years to roll back abortion rights and access to reproductive care,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “The right of choice should not depend on which party holds the majority, but that’s where we find ourselves. More than half the nation’s population now lacks safe access to a medical procedure that only a patient and their doctor can and should make for themselves. Instead, law enforcement, vigilantes and judicial systems can force patients to bear the burdens of forced pregnancy and birth. Washington state remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting the ability and right of every patient who comes to our state in need of abortion care, and we will fight like hell to restore that right to patients all across the country.”

In 2018, Inslee signed the Reproductive Parity Act, which requires all health plans that include maternity care services to also cover abortion and contraception. 

In 2021, he signed the Protecting Pregnancy Act that allows doctors who practice in Catholic-run hospitals to bypass ethical-religious directives and provide medically necessary abortion when a woman’s life is in danger. 

Inslee also signed the Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act earlier this year. It ensures the ability of Washington abortion care providers to serve any person who comes to Washington state seeking an abortion. 

Washington law also protects patients and clinic personnel from harassment outside of clinics. 

California and Oregon and have also taken action to expand reproductive health care. 

“The Supreme Court has made it clear – they want to strip women of their liberty and let Republican states replace it with mandated birth because the right to choose an abortion is not ‘deeply rooted in history.’ They want to turn back the clock to a time when women had no right to make decisions about their own bodies, when women had to seek care in the shadows and at great danger, when women were not treated as equal citizens under the law. This is another devastating step toward erasing the rights and liberties Americans have fought for on battlefields, in courthouses and in capitols. This is not the America we know – and it’s not the California way,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “California has banded together with Oregon and Washington to stand up for women, and to protect access to reproductive health care. We will not sit on the sidelines and allow patients who seek reproductive care in our states or the doctors that provide that care to be intimidated with criminal prosecution. We refuse to go back and we will fight like hell to protect our rights and our values.”

“Abortion is health care, and no matter who you are or where you come from, Oregon doesn’t turn away anyone seeking health care. Period. Let me be clear: You cannot ban abortion, you can only ban safe abortions — and this disgraceful Supreme Court decision will undoubtedly put many people’s lives at risk, in addition to stripping away a constitutional right that disproportionately affects women and has been settled law for most of our lifetimes,” said Governor Kate Brown. “For all the Americans today feeling scared, angry and disappointed — for everyone who needs an abortion and does not know where they can access safe reproductive health care –– please know you are not alone, and the fight is not over.”

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