Abortion bill protects Washington residents from outside restrictions
March 9, 2023
Reproductive health care services including abortion and gender affirming treatment would be protected in Washington State under a bill recently passed by the House with a 59-38 vote.
The legislation, House Bill 1469, was sponsored by Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island. Hansen said it establishes the state’s right to protect the insurance coverage of protected healthcare services, regardless of a person’s location when receiving those services.
Other states are free to make their own public policy choices on what is legal or illegal within the state, but Washington won’t allow other states to infringe on the rights of Washington residents, Hansen said.
“We will use every tool that we have to protect abortion rights in Washington state from the reach of anti-abortion laws in Texas and elsewhere,” he said.
Of the 59 votes to move the bill forward, 57 were Democrats and two were Republican. The 38 no votes were cast by Republicans. Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, was among those who voted no.
He said abortion access has been legal in Washington even before the Roe v. Wade was decided in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“In the effort to fight back, we may end up doing unintended harm to the rights and processes that are so important to people of this state,” he said. “We may end up dividing not only ourselves and the people of Texas and other states we may end up dividing ourselves amongst ourselves.”
While that is not the intent of the bill, emotionally driven bills often create problems, he said.
“It is my concern that this bill includes those kinds of unintended consequences,” he said. “We can’t afford the unintended harm and the unintended division that this policy may drive into the heart of Washington.”
Hansen said the bill would establish the state’s public policy to protect the provision and insurance coverage of protected healthcare services, regardless of a person’s location when receiving those services.
Under the bill, courts would be prohibited from issuing a subpoena, warrant, court order, arrest or other civil or criminal legal process related to proceedings in another state related to protected health care services.
HB 1469 prohibits state and local agencies from cooperating with any entity for the purpose of enforcing another state’s law that asserts civil or criminal liability related to protected health care services.
Businesses providing electronic communication services would be prohibited from providing or complying with a civil or criminal process with information relating to an investigation or enforcement of other laws.
Any request for foreign subpoenas would be required to include an attestation on if it seeks information related to protected healthcare services, and if it does, the court would not be allowed to issue the subpoena.
HB 1469 prohibits summoning a Washington witness to testify at a prosecution or grand jury investigation in another state if it involves the provision of protected healthcare services, unless the person is providing an attestation stating the prosecution or investigation does not seek information related to the provision of protected healthcare services.
Hansen said when the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion on the case leaked, Washington officials immediately tried to figure out the ways other state’s laws restricting abortion could be used in Washington against the state’s residents.
“In Texas, there is SB 8, which permits civil actions by anyone against anyone who assists in an abortion, and we were aware that other states would try to make abortion criminal in the wake of Dobbs,” he said.
Other states have followed in Texas’s footsteps in restricting abortion rights, and Hansen said Washington can be aggressive as well when fighting back, which is what HB 1469 does.
“We take all of the mechanisms that one would typically use, whether civil or criminal, to enforce the laws of other states here, and make them unavailable to actors trying to restrict abortion rights or gender affirming care that is legal in Washington,” he said.
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