OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced legislation he’ll seek to guarantee abortion access and ensure medical privacy in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the national right to abortion and sent the matter to the states.
Inslee, speaking outside the Campus Services Building at Western Washington University in Bellingham on Friday, Oct. 21, described a constitutional amendment and new laws that would be proposed if the Democratic Party keeps control of the Legislature.
“There are storm clouds on the horizon in the state of Washington,” Inslee said, warning that Republican legislators will keep introducing measures to limit reproductive freedom.
“Washington state was always a pro-choice state, is a pro-choice state, and we intend to make it a constitutional amendment in the state of Washington,” Inslee said at the event.
About 100 people attended, including WWU students, staff and the five Democrats in Whatcom County’s legislative delegation.
Several Democratic legislators joined Inslee, including state Deputy Senate Majority Leader Manka Dhingra, D-45th, Rep. Vandana Slatter, D-48th, and Rep. Sharon Shewmake, D-42nd.
Shewmake, a House member since 2018 who’s challenging state Sen. Simon Sefzik on the Nov. 8 ballot, has criticized his stance on abortion rights.
“My constituents are super mad and super engaged,” said Shewmake, who is an economics professor at WWU.
“The fact that (Republicans) are lying shows how out of touch they are with the people of this state,” she said.
“It’s an incredibly personal decision, whether or not to become a parent,” and Americans should be trusted to make that choice for themselves, Shewmake said.
Washington state has strong abortion-rights laws, but the subject has been a key issue for Democrats in legislative races as Republicans seek control of the Legislature.
Nowhere is that more important for the Democrats than Whatcom County’s 42nd Legislative District, where the party is trying to hold the 42nd’s two House seats and flip the Senate seat in a swing district that’s split between urban Bellingham and rural northern Whatcom County.
In a statement before his visit, Inslee said that protecting abortion access and reproductive health became a key issue for Democrats in June when the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade and set off a series of abortion bans in Republican-controlled states across the nation.
“Let’s end this debate in Washington state,” Inslee said Friday.