On Thursday, the state of Washington passed five laws to expand access to and enhance protections for both abortions and gender transition procedures.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, claimed in his blog that abortions and gender transitioning constituted freedom.
“The right of choice is an issue of freedom,” stated Inslee. “Health care must remain the providence [sic] of individual Washingtonians. These laws will keep the tentacles of oppressive and overreaching states out of Washington.”
One of the bills, SB 5768 from Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore Karen Keiser, authorized the Washington Department of Corrections to distribute a three-year supply, 30,000 doses, of mifepristone — the abortion drug that the governor purchased last month. Inslee managed to secure the abortion drug three days before the District Court for the Northern District of Texas ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revoke authorization of the drug.
Upon Senate passage of the bill earlier this month, Keiser touted mifepristone’s safety and efficacy. However, concerns continue to exist over the safety of the drug. 22 attorneys general petitioned the FDA in a letter earlier this year to reverse its decision allowing retail pharmacies to dispense abortion pills.
BREAKING: The Senate just passed #SB5768 to guarantee uninterrupted access to mifepristone, used in nearly 60% of abortions.
“We cannot allow an unelected judge to deny Washingtonians a safe, effective medication for their reproductive choice.”
— WA Senate Democrats (@WASenDemocrats) April 14, 2023
The concerns over the abortion drug’s safety predate increased focus brought on by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last summer. In 2021, over 100 U.S. senators and congressmen petitioned the FDA to enforce safety precautions for its distribution after the agency overturned a Trump-era rule requiring women to obtain mifepristone in person from a medical provider.
In February, Texas Rep. August Pfluger and Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, both Republicans, claimed that reporting requirements on the safety and efficacy of mifepristone are weak, and that at least dozens of deaths and hundreds of life-threatening complications have arisen from mifepristone. Pfluger and Hyde-Smith accused the FDA of abusing pathways allowing the expedited approval of drugs by categorizing pregnancy as an “illness” and mifepristone as a “meaningful therapeutic benefit.”
In another bill signed into Washington law, HB 1469 by Democratic State Rep. Drew Hansen, the state was made a safe haven for abortions and gender transition procedures. The law prohibits compliance with other states’ subpoenas, prevents compliance with other states’ investigations, and bans extraditions for violators of other states’ abortion and gender transitioning laws.
Hansen’s bill, also called the “Shield Law,” has been in the works ever since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision last summer.
Governor signed the Shield Law today!
This protects people in Washington State from anti-abortion laws in Texas/elsewhere.
I started working on it last summer when we saw draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade…five million drafts & countless meetings later we’re done; it’s law! pic.twitter.com/X511FceWL9
— Rep. Drew Hansen (@RepDrewHansen) April 27, 2023
The third bill, HB 1340 from Democratic State Rep. Marcus Riccelli, shields health care providers from disciplinary action or license revocation related to abortions or gender transition procedures given to patients residing in not only Washington, but other states. Meaning, abortionists punished under other states’ laws could still retain their license in Washington.
FROM THE WINGS: Rep. Marcus Riccelli sponsored HB 1340 to protect health care providers offering reproductive care or gender affirming care: pic.twitter.com/K1ABhLDZk2
— WA House Democrats (@WAHouseDems) March 2, 2023
The fourth bill, HB 1155 by Democratic Rep. Vandana Slatter, requires companies to obtain consent for any consumer health data, as well as prohibits geofencing certain locations for data collection and sales. One of the main purposes of the legislation was to protect women who receive abortions or those who receive gender-transitioning procedures.
As a pharmacist and a legislator, patient privacy matters to me. I’m proud to see #HB1155 WA My Health, My Data head to @GovInslee’s desk. Your data shd *never* be used against you. Let’s do this #waleg pic.twitter.com/xyVoiu2eZE
— Vandana Slatter ☮️ (@SlatterVandana) April 7, 2023
The fifth bill, SB 5242 by Democratic State Sen. Annette Cleveland, prohibits health carriers from imposing cost-sharing for abortions.
Passed the House!
SB 5242 restricts cost-sharing for abortion. This bill ensures equity and fairness for everyone receiving critical reproductive care. Nobody should be unable to access the care they need because of their inability to pay. #WALeg pic.twitter.com/IkqB8SEV96
— Annette Cleveland (@Sen_ACleveland) April 7, 2023
In addition to these five bills, Inslee announced that the state of Washington plans to allocate over $15 million over the next two years to subsidize abortions. However, Keiser noted on Thursday that there could be up to $23 million set aside for abortion clinics.
“We can’t let extremist judges in other states take away reproductive freedom from the women of Washington,” stated Keiser.
We can’t let extremist judges in other states take away reproductive freedom from the women of Washington. We are protecting rights and expanding access — These #waleg bills are now law:
SB 5242, HB 1155, HB 1469, HB 1340 & SB 5768
$23 million is also in the budget for clinics.
— Karen Keiser (@KarenKeiser1) April 27, 2023