Inslee prohibits Washington State Patrol to aid out-of-state abortion investigations
This has been described as a preemptive move in case states where abortion is banned or significantly restricted seek to investigate whether their residents have traveled to the state.
“We have a team looking at the expectations for our staff and will work with the Governor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office to develop specific operational planning going forward,” said Chris Loftis, the Communications Director for Washington State Patrol.
Inslee said he is continuing to look at additional steps to further protect patients from investigative activities initiated by agencies and vigilantes in anti-choice states.
“Washington is and will remain a sanctuary for any person seeking abortion care and services in our state, but we must act to protect our rights and our values,” Inslee wrote in his directive. “To that end, it is critical that our law enforcement agencies not cooperate in any manner with any out-of-state investigation, prosecution, or other legal action based on another state’s law that is inconsistent with Washington’s protections of the right to choose abortion and provide abortion-related care.”
The order directs the WSP to decline cooperation with most subpoenas, search warrants, or court orders from states with laws that ban or significantly restrict abortion access. WSP must review and process such requests in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General and Governor’s General Counsel.
“We simply operate with a steady focus on following the law, respecting the rights of all citizens, treating all with dignity, and keeping the public safe,” Loftis said. “Our responsibilities are to follow and enforce the laws of our nation and state and meet our duties, including implementing direction from our Governor through agency command. The public can have confidence that we will handle our responsibilities in this matter with dignified and professional dependability.”
Though the governor does not have jurisdiction over local law enforcement agencies, state law prohibits anyone, including all state and local enforcement, from penalizing, prosecuting, or taking any adverse action against patients exercising their reproductive rights.
Inslee this weekend also announced he had approved $1 million to help reproductive care clinics handle the increased number of patients coming to Washington state for care. He and legislators also plan to pursue a state constitutional amendment to solidify the legal right to an abortion and pursue additional policies and resources to expand access to services and protect patients’ legal rights.