Denouncing last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down Roe v. Wade, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and other abortion-rights advocates vowed at a news conference Monday to pursue countermeasures, including legislation, executive action — and perhaps a national women’s strike.
During the news conference at the state Democratic Party’s campaign headquarters in Seattle, Jayapal and other speakers shared their own stories of obtaining legal abortions after careful consideration, and lamented their children will no longer have that federally guaranteed right.
“This is a dark, dark time in our country. An extremist, Republican-controlled Supreme Court has gutted Roe v. Wade, doing something truly unprecedented, which is taking away a constitutional right that has been the law of the land for over half a century,” said Jayapal, D-Seattle, who shared her own decision to have an abortion after being told her pregnancy would be high risk.
Jayapal pointed to a raft of measures that House Democrats already have advanced in an effort to codify and expand access to abortion. But, she said, the Senate has blocked such proposals due to the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome.
She called for an end to the filibuster — an action President Joe Biden and conservative Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have opposed.
Jayapal said House Democrats will advance additional legislation in the coming months, and called for Judiciary Committee hearings into the conduct of Supreme Court justices who said at their confirmation hearings that Roe v. Wade represented an important legal precedent, but voted to overturn it.
Jayapal also raised the prospect of a national strike by women, citing a 1975 strike in Iceland, in which 90% of women reportedly participated, shutting down much of the country. “It is time to consider such a move here in the United States,” she said.
Harrell reiterated his commitment that Seattle police would not aid out-of-state law enforcement agencies in enforcing “punitive and reactionary” abortion bans in other states.
Dr. Jennifer Chin, an obstetrician-gynecologist at UW Medicine, said Friday’s decision, though expected following the leak of a draft version of the ruling, left her feeling like she’d been punched in the stomach.
“Pregnant people will die as a result of this decision. Not only will this affect patients seeking to end their pregnancy, this will have devastating ripple effects,” Chin said. “They will hemorrhage. They will experience severe infection. They will go into organ failure. They will die and leave their families behind all because the Supreme Court has abandoned reproductive justice and told women and everyone with a uterus that they do not matter.”
Port of Seattle Commissioner Toshiko Hasegawa shared her own personal decision to delay motherhood by having three abortions while pursuing her career.
“If not for the right to choose, there would be no Commissioner Hasegawa, nor would I be the mother that I am today,” she said. “In a time of blatant misogyny, transphobia and homophobia, living authentically and speaking out loud is an act of resistance.”
While abortion rights are protected by law in Washington due to a voter-approved initiative in 1991, Democrats are calling for additional measures.
State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski pointed to this year’s midterm elections, arguing Democrats need even greater legislative majorities than those they already have to institute new measures such as a constitutional amendment on abortion that would require two-thirds majorities in the state House and Senate.
Over the weekend, Gov. Jay Inslee announced during a fiery speech at the state Capitol that he’ll advance a proposal to enshrine the state’s abortion protections in the state constitution.