A leaked Supreme Court opinion suggesting Roe v. Wade could soon be reversed has put states into the spotlight, including Washington, where abortions are protected by state law.
Washington legalized abortions within the first months of pregnancy with Referendum 20 in 1970 — three years before Roe v. Wade — becoming the first state to do so.
The 1970 law came with the caveat that a woman had to seek permission from her husband to get an abortion. In 1973, this condition was superseded by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
The first major challenge to Roe v. Wade came with Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The case covered Pennsylvania’s amendments to its abortion control laws in 1988 and 1989 that required minors to get parental consent and married women to notify their husbands.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court could decide on this, Washingtonians passed Initiative 120, the Reproductive Privacy Act in 1991.
Seven months later, a federal appeals court, while reaffirming Roe, upheld Pennsylvania’s abortion control laws, except the requirement to notify the husband.
Since 1991, Washington has enacted a range of statutes focused on reproductive health. Most notably, in 2018, Washington passed the Reproductive Parity Act, requiring insurance plans to cover abortions and abortion care if they cover maternity services.
The law also requires a review of existing data on disparities affecting the reproductive health of people from marginalized communities.
Here’s a look back at how reproductive rights evolved in the state: