Washington does not adequately protect women from the negative consequences of abortion, nor does it protect the unborn from criminal violence. Washington has failed to enact commonsense, publicly supported laws such as informed consent, parental involvement, or abortion clinic regulations. The state also fails to protect citizens at the end of life—explicitly permitting physician-assisted suicide.
Legal Recognition of Unborn and Newly Born:
- The state maintains a “Freedom of Choice Act.” The Act mandates a right to abortion even if Roe v. Wade is eventually overturned, specifically providing: “The sovereign people hereby declare that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions. Accordingly, it is the public policy of the [S]tate of Washington that: (1) Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control; (2) Every woman has the fundamental right to choose or refuse to have an abortion...; (3) ... the state shall not deny or interfere with a woman’s fundamental right to choose or refuse to have an abortion; and (4) the state shall not discriminate against the exercise of these rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.”
- Further, a state voter initiative declared: “The state may not deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion prior to viability of the fetus, or to protect her life or health.”
- No abortion may be performed after viability unless necessary to protect the woman's life or health.
- Washington does not have an informed consent law for abortion, parental involvement law for minors seeking abortion, or abortion clinic regulations.
- Only a physician licensed in Washington may perform an abortion.
- The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions and requires abortion providers to report short-term complications.
- Washington taxpayers are required by statute to fund “medically necessary” abortions for women receiving state public assistance. Washington must also provide benefits, services, or information to permit women to voluntarily have abortions if it provides comparable maternity care benefits, services, or information.
- Washington allows pharmacists to provide “emergency contraception” without a prescription. A pharmacist may dispense the “emergency contraception” under written guidelines or protocols established and approved by a practitioner authorized to prescribe drugs.
- Hospitals providing emergency care for sexual assault victims must provide victims with “medically and factually accurate and unbiased written and oral information” about “emergency contraception.” In addition, hospitals must orally inform a sexual assault victim of her option to be provided with “emergency contraception” and provide a victim with “emergency contraception” upon request.
- Washington has a “contraceptive equity” law, requiring health insurance coverage for contraception. No exemption is provided for employers or insurers with a moral or religious objection to contraception.
- Washington protects physical access to abortion clinics and curtails the First Amendment rights of pro-life sidewalk counselors and demonstrators.
- Under Washington criminal law, the killing of an unborn child after “quickening” is defined as a form of homicide.
- The state allows a wrongful death (civil) action when a viable unborn child is killed through negligence or a criminal act.
- Under Washington law, “the right of medical treatment of an infant born alive in the course of an abortion procedure shall be the same as the right of an infant born prematurely of equal gestational age.” Thus, the state has created a specific affirmative duty of physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive at any stage of development.
- Washington has enacted a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants at designated places and ensuring the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
- The state funds drug treatment programs for pregnant women and newborns.
End of Life Laws:
- Washington law does not prohibit human cloning, destructive embryo research, or fetal experimentation.
- All persons licensed to provide prenatal care or practice medicine must provide information to all pregnant women regarding the differences between public and private umbilical cord blood banking and the opportunity to donate the blood and tissue extracted from the placenta and umbilical cord following delivery.
- Washington maintains no meaningful regulation of egg harvesting or assisted reproductive technologies.
- The “Uniform Parentage Act” includes “donation of embryos” in its definition of “assisted reproduction.”
Healthcare Rights of Conscience Laws:
Participation in Abortions:
- Washington has legalized physician-assisted suicide (PAS) by voter initiative. The initiative creates financial incentives for healthcare insurance companies to deny coverage for life-saving treatment and to pressure vulnerable patients to choose PAS—a practice already occurring in Oregon. Moreover, the initiative does not provide safeguards for those suffering from treatable mental illness, such as depression, and requires physicians participating in patient suicides to falsify death certificates.
- The initiative superseded a prior law which made assisted suicide a felony. That law had been upheld in the landmark case of Washington v. Glucksberg, where the U.S. Supreme Court refused to recognize a federal constitutional right to assisted suicide.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- An individual healthcare worker or private medical facility cannot be required by law or contract to participate in the performance of abortions.
- No person may be discriminated against in employment or professional privileges because of participating or refusing to participate in an abortion.
- Overall, Washington protects individual healthcare providers, as well as private hospitals and medical facilities, who conscientiously object to participating in any healthcare procedure. However, this protection does not extend to public hospitals and medical facilities.
What Happened in 2012:
- Washington currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of immoral medical research.
- Washington enacted a law which includes abortion under provisions of the state’s (general) informed consent requirements, but it does not rise to the level of a comprehensive informed consent law. The state also considered legislation regarding parental involvement.
- Washington also considered legislation requiring health plans that cover maternity care to cover abortion care unless the purchaser of the health plan affirmatively opts-out such coverage.
- While the state considered legislation supporting pregnancy care centers, it also considered legislation that would unnecessarily regulate or interfere with the work of the centers.
- The state considered regulation of assisted reproductive technologies.
- Washington again considered a requirement that, when a patient dies from assisted suicide, the physician who signs a patient’s death certificate designate that assisted suicide was the cause of death.
- The state considered measures related to advance planning documents, as well as measures relating to pain management and palliative care.
- In Stormans v. Selecky, a federal district court ruled that the state’s regulation requiring pharmacists to dispense “emergency contraception” violates the First (free exercise) and Fourteenth (equal protection) Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The case has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
- Repeal of State FOCA
- Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Women’s Right to Know Act
- Parental Notification for Abortion Act
- Women’s Health Protection Act (abortion clinic regulations)
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act (protecting a child from conception)
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Women’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act
- Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Prevention Act
- Child Protection Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Centers
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for pre-viable child)
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
End of Life:
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Limits on the provision of assisted suicide such as family member notification and mental health evaluations
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- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act