By BRETT DAVIS
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion, Gov. Jay Inslee said he will push for a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights within Washington state’s borders.
At a Saturday morning press conference at the State Capitol, Gov. Inslee blamed Republicans for the high court’s Friday Dobbs v. Jackson ruling sending the controversial abortion issue back to the individual states to set their own laws on the practice. The court’s decision centered on a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks.
“We have to understand, because of this Republican assault on women’s rights in this state, without a constitutional amendment to solidify this right under our state’s constitution, we are one Republican majority [away from] losing the right of choice in the state of Washington,” Gov. Inslee, a Democrat, said just after noting the conservative majority on the court was the result of Republican court stacking. “Accordingly, I will be asking the legislators to pass a constitutional amendment under our state’s constitution to protect women in our state.”
Gov. Inslee went on to say he will ask lawmakers to strengthen privacy laws and enact new laws that will bar Washington law enforcement agencies from aiding other states in investigating alleged violations of anti-abortion laws in those states.
“We will use every resource under the law to defend the rights to choice, to defend privacy rights and defend safety of citizens, including those who come from other states,” the governor said.
Idaho, which borders Washington to the east, has enacted a near-total abortion ban that automatically takes effect 30 days after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Health care providers expect an influx of Idaho residents into the Evergreen State for the procedure.
“Now access to data and privacy is very important in this fight, so we are going to be very alert to plug any gaps in our privacy laws, so that no one can expose private information from a Washington citizen or a citizen of a different state, who comes here for services,” Gov. Inslee said. “We are not going to allow that data to get back to Texas or Missouri or Idaho.”
The Washington State Patrol will not be looking into potential violations of abortion laws in other states, according to the governor.
“Next week I will be issuing an executive order to the Washington State Patrol not to cooperate in investigations of other states who would violate the Roe v. Wade decision,” Gov. Inslee said, adding future legislation will be required to make sure that applies to all law enforcement agencies in Washington.
Caleb Heimlich, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, characterized Gov. Inslee’s call for an abortion amendment to the state constitution as a diversion from real issues.
“Governor Inslee’s priorities are quite telling, he has done nothing as Washington families struggle with inflation, rising gas prices and a baby formula shortage,” he told The Center Square via email. “After the Dobbs decision, Governor Inslee immediately wants to make abortion a central campaign issue to distract from his party’s abysmal record both nationally and locally. Our state has already codified abortion rules in state law.”
Abortion has been legal in Washington state since a 1970 statewide ballot referendum. In 1973, that referendum was superseded by Roe v. Wade. In 1991, voters approved an initiative codifying the expansive protections of Roe into Washington state law.
People have other concerns on their mind, Mr. Heimlich said.
“The voters will see through his blatant fear-mongering tactic in November and will cast their votes for change on the top issues they are consistently telling us about at their doorstep: restoring public safety, restoring affordability, and restoring accountability between our political leaders and the voters – all areas where Democrats are failing miserably,” he said.