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As SCOTUS Hears Texas Abortion Case, How Do Washington's Laws Compare?

The state of Washington doesn't have any legal restrictions on access to abortions. (Pattymooney/Wikimedia Commons)
The state of Washington doesn't have any legal restrictions on access to abortions. (Pattymooney/Wikimedia Commons)
March 2, 2016

SEATTLE - The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case today on a Texas law that has closed a number of abortion clinics in the state, and other states with similar laws targeting abortion clinics will be watching the decision closely.

The state of Washington doesn't have any legal restrictions on access to clinics. However, Erica Barnett, communications director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said lawmakers have introduced more legislation than usual this session to restrict abortions, such as a proposal that would notify parents if their daughter is having an abortion, which was defeated by a narrow margin.

"We anticipate that if we don't preserve our pro-choice majority," she said, "it's possible that that will move forward even further."

Lawmakers also introduced bills to cut Medicaid funding of abortions for poor women and a so-called sex-selective abortion ban. The sex-selective proposal would have banned abortions based on the sex of the baby. Barnett said abortions of this type are exceedingly rare.

The Washington Legislature also is considering two bills that would provide more women with access to reproductive health care. House Bill 2681 would allow trained pharmacists to prescribe birth control directly to women without a doctor's prescription, and House Bill 2465 would allow women to obtain a 12-month supply of birth control on one visit instead refilling each month. Both bills have passed the House and now are in the Senate. But Barnett says NARAL still is watching the Supreme Court case closely.

"Washington is not immune from the forces that shape the rest of the country," she said. "We may seem like we live in a progressive little bubble out here, but we don't. We live in a country that is very hostile to women's rights right now."

The text of HB 2681 is here and the text of HB 2465 is here.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA