Office of Governor Gary Locke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 22, 2004
Contact: Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136
Alt Contact: Karen Cooper, NARAL, 206-873-8505
Gov. Gary Locke, Pro-Choice Legislators, Abortion Rights Leaders Mark 31st Anniversary of Roe v. WadeGov. Gary Locke today marked the 31st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by calling for even more vigilance in protection of a woman’s right to choose.
Locke participated in a news conference with pro-choice legislators and state abortion rights leaders in Olympia, including Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam; Sen. Pat Thibaudeau, D-Seattle; and Genevieve Aguilar, chair of Pro-Choice Washington.
In its historic 1973 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s decision whether to continue a pregnancy is a fundamental right alongside other rights such as freedom of speech and religion.
Locke pointed out that Washington was the first state to legalize abortion through a vote of the people – three years before Roe v. Wade – and that Washington citizens have reaffirmed the right to choose several times since the decision.
“We are a strongly pro-choice state,” Locke said. “We have a long history of passing pro-choice legislation and pro-choice initiatives. We also have a strong track record of turning back anti-choice legislation and initiatives.
“We are proud of this tradition. We know in this state that the right to reproductive choice is critical to women’s rights. It is central to the concepts of equality and self-government. Democratic government begins with the right to responsibly govern our individual lives.”
Locke today also spoke out against anti-choice legislation at the federal and state level. “We must be vigilant in protecting against the political erosion of the right to choose. We must always fight against rules, regulations and legislation that seek to chip away at this right.”
Kessler said, “Right now, women’s freedom of choice is hanging by a thread. Today the U.S. Supreme Court supports a woman’s right to choose by a slim 5-4 margin. Over the next few years, the likelihood that two or more anti-choice justices could be appointed is very high. If just one justice who currently supports Roe is replaced by one who does not, Roe could be reversed.”
Thibaudeau said, “Today, we are celebrating our right as women to control our own bodies. We are also commemorating the hard work of the many people who fought to gain this right, and we should also remind ourselves today that maintaining our reproductive freedoms will require continued vigilance.”
Aguilar said, “The decision whether or not to bear a child is a fundamental civil liberty and among the most private decisions an individual can make. When government policies and mandates interfere with this decision we have lost the very foundation of our humanity and our rights as Americans.”
There are a number of reproductive rights bills being debated in the state Legislature this session, including:
· HB 2442, “Including Access to Family Planning Services in Growth Management Planning,” would require city and county growth management plans to ensure that all who choose to use reproductive health care services have access to these services.
· HB 2617/SB 6223, “Requiring Parental Notification for Abortion,” would prohibit physicians from performing abortions on girls under the age of 18 or on legally incapacitated women unless a parent/guardian has received at least 48 hours advance notice. A minor or legally incapacitated woman may petition the superior court for a ruling that she is “mature and capable of giving informed consent.”
· HB 2599, “Requiring Informed Consent for Abortion,” would prohibit physicians from performing an abortion unless the pregnant woman has received, at least 24 hours in advance, oral notification of possible consequences and oral notification that printed materials from the state Department of Health are available that describe the unborn child and list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion. The woman seeking the abortion would have to certify in writing that she has received the oral information.
· HB 2479, “Right of a Woman to Refuse to Have an Abortion,” amends statute in several places to say women can choose to refuse to have an abortion.
· SB 6222, “Ensuring Health Care Provider and Insurer Right of Conscience,” would prohibit discrimination, disqualification, coercion or imposition of civil/criminal liability upon persons/entities who refuse to act contrary to their conscientious convictions in obtaining or delivering health care services. Among other provisions, this bill would exempt insurers from having to cover contraceptives or abortion services.
· SB 6015/HB 2173, “Respecting and Protecting the Unborn,” would prohibit partial-birth abortions; prohibit the cloning of human embryos; prohibit the sale, donation or use of aborted fetal body parts; prohibit abortion not based on factors delineated in Roe; require standards of care for abortion clinics; ensure health care provider and insurer right of conscience; prohibit non-physicians from performing abortions; require parental consent, informed consent, and a 24-hour waiting period; require notification of breast cancer risks associated with abortion; prohibit public funding of abortion; require abortion related data collection; and require the elimination of pain felt by unborn children resulting from abortions.
· SB 5615, “Parental Notification for Abortions Provided to Minors,” would require physicians to provide 48 hours advance “notification and consent” to parents of minors seeking abortions. Exemptions from this requirement might be made if the minor is a victim of parental abuse, if there is a medical emergency, or if a court rules the minor is sufficiently mature to make her own choice.
Pro-choice advocates gathered in Olympia today to meet with legislators.
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Related links: www.governor.wa.gov; www.leg.wa.gov; www.wanaral.org