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Washington is a “sanctuary state” for abortion, and the numbers prove it

After Roe v Wade was overturned in June 2022, Washington became a “sanctuary state” for women seeking abortions who lived in states where the practice was outlawed. New data shows that Washington’s monthly abortion rates increased by 16.5% – an additional 290 procedures each month. 

As of June 2023, 20 states have banned or restricted abortion. Washington has absorbed patients from surrounding states, but most notably from Idaho, where a near total abortion ban was enacted. Planned Parenthood clinics in Washington have experienced a 56% increase in Idaho abortion patients over the past year. Clinics in Central and Eastern Washington alone have averaged an additional 100 abortions per month, which amounts to a 20-30% increase from before Roe. 

One Republican state senator noted that Washington’s new abortion laws would encourage “abortion tourism” – and he was correct. 

“I strongly disagree with some of the laws that have been passed here on this floor, and in the other body, and signed by the governor,” Sen. Mike Padden began. “That’s one thing, when they affect the citizens of our state. But it’s another thing when we are trying to negate laws of other states in order to promote abortion tourism or promote these operations on our young people under the age of 18. And when we violate or try to negate these laws, we’ve gone too far.” (emphasis added)

Washington has enacted overly broad measures to ensure that patients from states where abortion is illegal will not face repercussions for crossing state lines to receive the procedure However, this is infringing on the laws of states like Idaho. Governor Jay Inslee even issued a directive in 2022 that barred Washington’s state police from cooperating with out-of-state abortion investigations. Measures like these could be considered unconstitutional under the “Conflict of Laws” principle. 

“The Supreme Court has made it amply clear that based upon this constitutional provision, every state must treat the judgment given by another state as valid and must help in enforcing the judgment,” one legal resource explained. (emphasis added)

It is still unclear how these conflict-of-laws issues will play out, but it is important to note that the fight against unrestricted abortion access in Washington is not over. Our state is not too far gone for redemption. Continue to pray for the men and women at the forefront of this battle – in the legislature, in the legal system, and at policy councils like FPIW. We could not succeed in this mission without the body of Christ behind us.

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16

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