OLYMPIA – At the request of Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) and Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) have filed a constitutional amendment that would provide the strongest possible state-level protection for reproductive freedom.

Senate Joint Resolution 8202 would enshrine in the state’s constitution the individual right to make decisions about reproduction free of the interference of the government. It would protect the right to choose to have an abortion and the right to choose to use contraception.

“For 50 years, the right to reproductive freedom has been the settled law of the land,” said Keiser. “After the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical decision to repeal that right, our state has a responsibility to step up and guarantee that every Washingtonian retains the fundamental right to choose when and whether to have children. The Court’s recent actions setting aside state laws is a signal that state statutes need the backing of clear and specific constitutional rights.”

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds supermajority vote in both chambers of the Legislature and approval by a majority of voters in a general election.

The people of Washington have twice voted to protect abortion rights, first by passing Referendum 20 in 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, and second by passing Initiative 120, the Reproductive Privacy Act, in 1991, codifying the Roe protections into state law. As a constitutional amendment, SJR 8202 would provide a higher level of protection for reproductive freedom.

The proposed constitutional amendment is in addition to a package of proposed legislation to provide access, funding and equity for reproductive services to all in Washington state.

“In the nationwide fallout from the Supreme Court’s ruling, one thing became clear: Washington state is a national leader in protecting the right to choose,” said Kuderer. “We have more protections for providers and patients coming in 2023 to guarantee the right to an abortion remains safe and legal in Washington. We will remain a state that safeguards healthcare for all.”

This summer, the governor announced that Washington, along with Oregon and California, was establishing a Multi-State Commitment to Reproductive Freedom. The governor and legislators announced proposed legislative and executive actions, including, in addition to the constitutional amendment:

  • An executive order that directs the Washington State Patrol to refuse cooperation with investigatory requests related to abortion that come from agencies in states that do not allow abortion.
  • $1 million in emergency funds to better ensure reproductive clinics in Washington state can provide care to every patient who walks through their doors.
  • Ensuring hospital mergers do not result in erosion of access to abortion care, particularly in rural areas.
  • Increased protection and safeguards for patient data.

The 105-day legislative session is scheduled to begin on Jan. 9.