Reproductive Rights Advocacy Day
Yesterday, Women’s Commission Commissioners and staff, along with dozens of advocates from other agencies & organizations, tuned into Senate & House committee hearings to listen to public testimony on several bills aiming to protect and expand access to abortion and reproductive healthcare rights in Washington State. Women’s Commission staff then joined dozens of passionate advocates on the north steps of the Washington State Capitol for a "Reproductive Freedom Rally", organized by Pro-Choice Washington. At the rally, advocates shared stories about their experiences, and legislators addressed the vital need to protect and expand reproductive healthcare access in Washington State in the wake of the Supreme Court Dobbs v Jackson decision.
WSWC Commissioner Vicki Lowe testified to the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee in her capacity as Executive Director of the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State. She alluded to the history of government-sanctioned forced sterilization of Native women, and how the right to have children was taken from them. She summarized the importance of the right to choice stating,
“There is no difference between my right to have an abortion and my right to have children. They are both part of the same right.”
Reproductive healthcare access and protection bills heard in committees yesterday include:
SJR 8202 – This bill proposes an amendment to the state constitution to enshrine the right to reproductive freedom for voters to decide on in November. For the amendment to make the November ballot it will have to pass out of committee, and then through both chambers with a 2/3’s vote.
SB 5242 – This bill aims to prohibit cost-sharing for the coverage of abortion services.
SB 5260 – This bill would work to protect and assist Washington employers that provide access to, or benefits for, reproductive health care services.
SB 5241 – The Keep Our Care Act would mandate that communities have the same or greater access to quality, affordable care after a merger, acquisition, or contracting affiliation between hospitals, hospital systems, or provider organizations.
SB 5489/HB 1469 – The Shield Law would provide legal protections for those providing or seeking reproductive care in WA State, including abortion care and gender affirming care.
HB 1155 – The Washington My Health, My Data Act aims to establish consumer rights in regard to the collection, sharing, or selling of health care data.
HB 1340 – If passed, this bill would establish “participation in reproductive health care services or gender affirming treatment by health care providers does not constitute "unprofessional conduct" under the Uniform Disciplinary Act (UDA) and may not serve as the basis for professional discipline, with some exceptions,” protecting WA healthcare providers from disciplinary action “based solely on a health care provider's violation of another state's laws prohibiting participation in reproductive health care services or gender affirming.”
Photo credit for 2nd photo: Karen Ducey/Seattle Times