By REBECCA BOONE
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he will push for a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights within his state’s borders, as well as laws that will make it difficult for other states to investigate whether their own residents have visited Washington for abortion care.
“The right to this choice, this constitutional choice for the last five decades, should not depend on which party is in control of our state Legislature,” said Inslee, a Democrat. Without a constitutional amendment, the state would be in danger of losing abortion rights if a Republican majority was ever elected in the Legislature, he said.
Inslee made the announcement during a news conference Saturday morning. He said he will ask legislators to strengthen privacy laws and enact new laws that will bar Washington law enforcement agencies from aiding other states if they are investigating alleged violations of anti-abortion laws.
The neighboring state of Idaho has enacted a near-total abortion ban that automatically takes effect 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Health care providers expect that Idaho residents seeking abortion services may travel to Washington state for the procedure.
“Next week I will be issuing an executive order to the Washington State Patrol not to cooperate in investigations of other states to who violate the Roe v. Wade decision,” Inslee said. “Access to data and privacy is very important in this fight so we are going to be very alert in privacy laws … we’re not going to allow that data to get back to Texas or Missouri or Idaho.”
Inslee said he would make Washington a “sanctuary of choice,” defending the right to reproductive health care, privacy and safety of citizens, “including those that come from other states.”
Abortion has been legal in Washington state since a 1970 statewide ballot referendum. Another ballot measure approved by voters in 1991 affirmed a woman’s right to choose physician-performed abortion prior to fetal viability and further expanded and protected access to abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade was overturned.