Apr 26, 2023 - Politics

Murray and Schrier seek to protect abortion doctors in blue states

A splitscreen of Patty Murray in a maroon suit jacket behind a podium, pointing while speaking at left, and Kim Schrier seated in a congressional panel speaking into a microphone, also wearing maroon, at right.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray at left and U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier at right. Photos: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Members of Washington's congressional delegation are trying to protect doctors in blue states from legal action if they perform abortions on people who cross state lines for the procedure.

What's happening: Today, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Sammamish) are introducing legislation to prevent some states' restrictive abortion laws from being used against doctors who provide abortions in states where the procedure is legal.

Context: A law set to take effect in Idaho — the first of its kind in the U.S. — makes it illegal to either obtain abortion pills for a minor or help a minor leave the state for an abortion without parental consent, the Associated Press reports.

  • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) has said the measure does not criminalize interstate travel. But critics have worried the law could have wide-ranging effects, with Planned Parenthood saying it's unclear how the so-called "abortion trafficking" measure will be enforced.

What they're saying: In a news release, Murray called the federal legislation a necessary step to "ensure that doctors in states like Washington can continue to provide essential care without being threatened with jail time or lawsuits."

  • Schrier, meanwhile, said the proposal "protects women and doctors from unjust prosecution."

Zoom in: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) is preparing to sign legislation to prevent Washington's courts and law enforcement from aiding other states' abortion-related investigations.

  • Another measure awaiting Inslee's signature aims to protect Washington doctors from disciplinary consequences if they provide abortions in violation of other states' laws.

What we're watching: Murray and Schrier introduced a version of the legislation last year that didn't advance. New abortion restrictions like the one recently signed in Idaho, however, could boost interest in the federal bill.

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