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Reproductive Freedom at Risk, Women's Rights Group Says

President Donald Trump has promised to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy with a Supreme Court pick who will overturn Roe v. Wade. (trac1/Twenty20)
President Donald Trump has promised to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy with a Supreme Court pick who will overturn Roe v. Wade. (trac1/Twenty20)
July 2, 2018

SEATTLE — Supporters of women's rights say developments at the U.S. Supreme Court are putting the future of reproductive rights in peril.

Last week, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that so-called crisis pregnancy centers run by anti-abortion groups cannot be compelled by states to post information about the availability of abortion services, because these clinics aren't actually providing medical services. Eli Goss, political director for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said her group's view is that abortions are normal, safe medical procedures that should be treated like other services.

"You know, if someone was going in for spinal surgery, we would never say it's okay for there to be these fake clinics that say, 'Hey, we'll fix your back!' When in reality, they only give you one out of three options,” Goss said.

Last year, King County passed an ordinance requiring that crisis pregnancy centers advertise they don't actually provide medical services. Goss said her organization believes that ordinance will stand under this Supreme Court ruling.

Reproductive-rights advocates also are concerned about the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, which paves the way for President Donald Trump to appoint a justice he has promised will overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.

Goss pointed out that a Trump pick on the high court will long outlast his presidency, meaning it would be up to states to protect women's access to abortion services.

"The people of Washington, both in the '70s and then again in the early '90s, with Initiative 120, voted and upheld a person's right to choose legal abortion,” she said. “And so we will be protected here in the state. And that means truly, we'll be a sanctuary for people from all across the country."

But while action at the Supreme Court is giving the pro-choice movement a sense of alarm, Goss noted reproductive rights have been chipped away ever since the Roe v. Wade decision. So, the urgency is nothing new.

"We're built for fights like this, and I think we also have a really new, energized base of young people that didn't grow up in the time when Roe v. Wade wasn't a reality,” Goss said. “And so, I think people now are even more resolved to say, 'We're not going back. We're only moving forward.'"

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA