Wash. state troopers cannot cooperate with other states' abortion investigations, governor orders
The order also requires the state patrol to work with the Attorney General to "carefully scrutinize" cooperation requests related to reproductive healthcare
By Laurel Demkovich
The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered the state patrol to refuse cooperation with investigations from agencies in other states related to abortion.
The directive follows the U.S. Supreme Court's decision reversing Roe v. Wade, which will trigger abortion bans or severe restrictions in a number of states, including Idaho.
" Washington is and will remain a sanctuary for any person seeking abortion care and services in our state, but we must act to protect our rights and our values," Inslee wrote.
The order directs the Washington State Patrol to refrain from providing any cooperation or assistance to out-of-state agencies if an investigation deals with abortion or reproductive health services that are legal in Washington. That could include declining subpoenas, search warrants or court orders.
It also requires the state patrol to establish a process with the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of General Counsel to "carefully scrutinize" all requests for cooperation, assistance or information related to reproductive care or abortion from other states.
Any request must include a detailed description of the matter under investigation and the purpose of the request, Inslee wrote.
All uncertainty surrounding a request must be resolved through Inslee's office of General Counsel.
All reports must also be reported by the state patrol.
Washington law prohibits state and local agencies from penalizing, prosecuting or taking any adverse action against someone based on their pregnancy outcomes or for assisting a pregnant person in exercising their right to reproductive freedom, according to Inslee's directive.
Inslee said this directive is one step in a commitment made by him, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon last week to defend access to reproductive health care.
In the directive, Inslee called the court's decision a "flagrant disregard of established constitutional rights and sound legal precedents."
"This means that where a person lives in this country will determine how 'equal' and 'free' that person is," Inslee wrote.
Inslee has also called for an amendment to the state constitution that would protect abortion rights in Washington, something that likely has little chance of passing the Legislature.
It would require two-thirds of both the state Senate and the state House of Representatives to pass, which would require some support from Republicans. It would then have to go to the general election ballot and need a simple majority to pass.
State Republicans have acknowledged that the Supreme Court decision does not affect the law in Washington. Some have pushed for more support for pregnant women while others have called on stricter laws.
"Better support for pregnant women who choose to give birth should be a common goal for all of us, regardless of our politics," Senate Minority Leader John Braun said. "Compassion and empathy, rather than hostility, should be the universal approach."
Spokane Valley Republican Mike Padden said now is the time to take a closer look at Washington's abortion laws and set "reasonable limits" on abortions, such as eliminating abortions based on gender or the diagnosis of Down syndrome.
"In the state of Washington, we have a lot of work to do to get some reasonable limits to the radical extremist pro-abortion policy that allows abortion at any time, for any reason," Padden said.
Washington's current law allows for abortion up to the viability of the fetus, which often occurs around 24 weeks gestation.
Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper's managing editor.
(c)2022 The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.)