New WA constitutional amendment proposed to protect abortion rights

Dec 27, 2022, 2:51 PM
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Washington state could be getting a new constitutional amendment that would provide the “strongest possible state-level protection for reproductive freedom,” if it is passed in the upcoming legislative session.

Proposed by two Democratic state senators at the request of Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) and Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) have filed a constitutional amendment that would enshrine in the state’s constitution the individual right to make decisions about reproduction free of the interference of the government.

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Senate Joint Resolution 8202, would protect the right to have an abortion and the right to use contraception.

The proposed constitutional amendment is in addition to a package of proposed legislation to provide access, funding and equity for reproductive services to all in Washington state.

“In the nationwide fallout from the Supreme Court’s ruling, one thing became clear: Washington state is a national leader in protecting the right to choose,” said Kuderer. “We have more protections for providers and patients coming in 2023 to guarantee the right to an abortion remains safe and legal in Washington. We will remain a state that safeguards healthcare for all.”

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds super-majority vote in both chambers and approval by a majority of voters in a general election.

“For 50 years, the right to reproductive freedom has been the settled law of the land,” said Keiser. “After the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical decision to repeal that right, our state has a responsibility to step up and guarantee that every Washingtonian retains the fundamental right to choose when and whether to have children.

“The Court’s recent actions setting aside state laws is a signal that state statutes need the backing of clear and specific constitutional rights.”

This comes after Gov. Inslee vowed to ensure abortion access in the state after Politico revealed the Supreme Court’s decision back in May.

The people of Washington have twice voted to protect abortion rights, first by passing Referendum 20 in 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, and second by passing Initiative 120, the Reproductive Privacy Act, in 1991, codifying the Roe protections into state law.

This summer, Gov. Inslee announced that Washington, along with Oregon and California, was establishing a Multi-State Commitment to Reproductive Freedom.

The 105-day legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 9.

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New WA constitutional amendment proposed to protect abortion rights