Jun 27, 2022 - News

Washington preps for influx of abortion patients after Roe v. Wade reversal

States where abortion access is guaranteed
Data: Axios research; Map: Axios Visuals

Abortion clinics and government officials in Washington state are preparing for a rush of out-of-state patients now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: In 13 states with trigger laws, including neighboring Idaho, Friday's ruling means that most abortions will be banned.

  • Patients seeking abortions in those states will likely go elsewhere for care, including Washington, where voters codified Roe's protections into state law decades ago.
  • Washington is one of 16 states nationwide with such protections.

What's happening: Paul Dillon, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho, told Axios on Friday his organization has ramped up its hiring of providers who can perform abortions and prescribe abortion pills.

  • That includes adding more physician assistants and nurse practitioners, who a new state law clarifies can perform abortions just like licensed physicians.

Meanwhile, the governors of Washington, Oregon and California announced a "multistate commitment" Friday saying they will work to protect abortion providers and patients from the reach of other states' anti-abortion laws.

State of play: Dillon said Planned Parenthood's 11 clinics in Eastern Washington have already seen a large increase in out-of-state patients.

  • The uptick coincided with conservative states passing more restrictive abortion laws, he added.
  • "We have seen patients from Texas since the law there went into effect," Dillon said, referencing Texas' 2021 law that banned abortions after six weeks.
  • "We have never seen patients from Texas before," he added.

What they're saying: At a Saturday press conference, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he would issue an executive order this week telling the Washington State Patrol to not cooperate with other states' legal investigations of abortion providers or patients.

  • Inslee said he will ask the Legislature to approve a law that would stop local enforcement agencies from participating in such investigations as well.
  • "We will make Washington state a sanctuary state for the right of choice," Inslee said.

Zoom in: State and local officials also are directing money to help people access abortion care.

  • King County executive Dow Constantine announced Friday he is authorizing $500,000 for Public Health – Seattle & King County "to respond to the surge we know is coming."
  • Constantine and County Council chair Claudia Balducci are asking the county council to send another $500,000 to Northwest Abortion Access Fund, which helps people travel to abortion clinics and pay for procedures.
  • Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said he will ask the City Council to send $250,000 to the program as well.
  • Inslee, meanwhile, said he will authorize $1 million in state emergency funding to help people access abortion services.

The other side: Local anti-abortion activists cheered the ruling and the end of Roe v. Wade on social media.

  • "Today is the day that pro-lifers have been anticipating for 50 years," the Family Policy Institute of Washington wrote on Facebook Friday.

Of note: Several large protests were held in the Seattle area Friday and over the weekend expressing outrage over the court's decision.

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