Washington State to Strengthen Abortion Protections Ahead of Planned Ramp – Slog
In what’s shaping up to be a not-so-stellar session for progressive politics, HB 1851 looks like one of the good and urgent bills Democrats pushed through this year despite the bleating and gnashing of teeth of the other side. Lester Black
This summer, the Supreme Court is likely to eviscerate Roe vs. Wade, which will trigger a slew of state laws across the country that limit or outright prohibit access to abortion. Clinics will close in unprotected states, forcing expectant mothers who wish to terminate their pregnancies to cross state lines or treat themselves with abortion pills, as most of them did in Texas at the end of last year.
If the Court eventually authorizes a total ban, the Guttmacher Institute predicts a 385% increase in the number of “women of childbearing age” from neighboring states who would consider Washington the closest place to have an abortion.
We could start to see an increase in the number of people seeking care here in no time. Idaho’s narrower version of Texas’ abortion premium law passed the Senate last week, and the state has already passed trigger legislation to ban virtually all abortions 30 days later. the complete overthrow of SCOTUS deer and Casey.
To help manage the expected influx and bolster abortion protections in Washington, the State House on Monday approved minor (but important) Senate changes to the 1851 House Bill, but the whole process doesn’t work. It didn’t happen without completely unfounded histrionics on the part of the Republicans. , some of which I have seen repeated ad nauseam during the 2022 election cycle.
“When HB 1851 is signed into law by Governor Inslee, it means Washington will continue to do its part in the national fight to protect access. As access to abortion is potentially cut off for millions of patients, we will be there to welcome them,” said Courtney Normand, Washington State Director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocate.
The bill accomplishes all of this by doing a few things: codifying some opinions of Washington attorneys general that allow doctors with the proper training to perform abortions, replacing gendered language with gender-neutral language, and prohibiting the state from criminalizing someone for handling their own abortion.
Although the two Democratic attorneys general’s notices (a 2004 notice by Christine Gregoire and a 2019 notice by Bob Ferguson) authorize advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to perform abortions, they are not only opinions. Consolidating these views into state law would add a sense of security to qualified PAs and ARNPs who wish to perform abortions but feel nervous about doing so without the full force of state law. state behind them. Proponents hope the sense of security could spur more of the state’s roughly 10,000 APs and ARNPs to step in and help deal with the upcoming outbreak.
The need for more providers, as Megan Burbank reported for Crosscut, seems particularly intense east of the mountains, “where there are only five abortion clinics, all run by Planned Parenthood, and where clinicians are already seeing out-of-state patients on a regular basis.”
Of course, Senate Republicans wasted a lot of time flipping bullshit about the whole thing. Rather than openly admitting her disbelief that trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people exist, Republican Senator Judy Warnick expressed much “confusion” about the need to use gender-neutral language in the bill, but most of the “debate” centered on the powers and on this question of responsibility.
On the first question, Republican Senator Phil Fortunato led the way, twice suggesting that the bill allowed janitors to perform abortions. “What is a health care provider? Could this be a hospital janitor?” he said when discussing an amendment. In his remarks on the final passage of the bill, he invented a borderline case, expressed confusion over the definition of health care provider and again said, “Is it the janitor who cleans in a hospital ?”
Expect to hear “this year, Democrats in Olympia passed a bill to allow janitors to perform abortions!!!” on the election campaign, even if it is not true. The bill authorizes “a physician, physician assistant, advanced registered nurse practitioner, or other health care provider acting within the scope of the provider’s practice” to perform abortions. The bill defines “health care provider” as a “person regulated under Title 18 RCW to perform health or health-related services or otherwise perform health care services in this state in accordance with the state law”, which does not include janitors.
Republicans also panicked over the section of the bill that prevents the state from criminalizing people who terminate their own pregnancies or criminalizing people who aid or assist a pregnant person “exercising their right to freedom of procreate with their voluntary consent”. In practice, this section essentially protects people from lawsuits when they take an abortion pill without medical supervision or help obtain an abortion pill for a pregnant person who wants one.
Although Washington does not currently criminalize people who terminate their own pregnancies, that does not stop people from trying. Last year, Spokane cops obtained a warrant to investigate a woman for “potential criminal child abuse” after she suffered a miscarriage at a hotel. Although the cops never filed criminal charges, an attorney for the nonprofit IfWhenHow told the outlet “she found no reason to suspect a crime in the warrant filed with the police.” Spokane County Superior Court”. Passing a law to prevent people from trying this kind of crap seems like the least we can do given the current makeup of the highest court in the land.
In what’s shaping up to be a not-so-stellar session for progressive politics, HB 1851 looks like one of the good and urgent bills Democrats pushed through this year despite the bleating and gnashing of teeth of the other side.