Could Washington become an anti-abortion state?

Improbable as that seems, Mark Miloscia, a former state lawmaker and executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, contends it could. After all, he said, “the impossible has happened” — a reference to the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion indicating Roe v. Wade may soon be overturned.

“Now,” he continued, “the goal would be getting a pro-life majority in Washington state.”

It’s a reach in a Democratic state that passed a law legalizing abortion in the first four months of pregnancy in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide.

Even Esther Ripplinger, executive director of Human Life of Washington, is skeptical. She said that in this state, regardless of how the final decision in the challenge to Roe v. Wade turns out, “nothing changes.”

But Miloscia sees the Supreme Court decision, if true to the draft, as a sea change that will launch a public debate and “move the the entire country in a pro-life direction.”

He maintains that abortion rights supporters outnumber opponents in Washington, reckoning that anti-abortion candidates win close to 50% of the vote and account for roughly 42% of current state lawmakers.

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“I think that will go up this election cycle,” said Miloscia, a Federal Way resident who long served in the state Legislature, first as a Democrat and then a Republican, before taking over the Christian policy group several years ago.

Washington’s highest ranking elected leaders, all Democrats, spoke out forcefully Tuesday against the draft opinion, however, promising that abortion would remain legal throughout the state and pledging that women from more conservative states could travel here for abortions.

A 2014 Pew Research Center survey found 60% of responding Washingtonians said they support abortion in all or most cases. In polling conducted in 2019 for Planned Parenthood, 40% said abortion should be generally available and 17% said it should remain legal in many circumstances but be subject to regulation.

“We have to change hearts and minds,” Miloscia said, acknowledging it will be difficult to win over the most ardent abortion rights supporters. He nevertheless said he expects to achieve that goal within a decade.

More about the Supreme Court and abortion

Miloscia is not blind to the plan by abortion providers and activists to make Washington a safe haven for women from other states who are seeking abortions.

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“A post-Roe nation, however, will likely make our pro-life work here in Washington that much more important,” he wrote on the Family Policy Institute website in January.

Miloscia called for the formation of a state “Saving all Babies Commission” that would seek to reduce Washington abortions by 50% over five years. He said Tuesday that such a bipartisan commission could come up with ways to support pregnant women so they don’t turn to abortion.

Miloscia said his Christian policy group does not yet have an immediate game plan but that Washington residents would be hearing more soon.

“We have long-term plans on how to make our state focus on virtue and go back to our, kind of, Judeo-Christian world view,” Miloscia said.