OLYMPIA — Abortion rights dominated Olympia on Tuesday, as state lawmakers heard hours of public testimony on seven proposals to reinforce abortion access.

The emphasis on a single day — at one point Tuesday morning, four different legislative committees were hearing testimony on abortion bills — was intended to demonstrate majority Democrats’ support for abortion rights in a post-Roe world.

Gov. Jay Inslee, lawmakers aim to keep anti-abortion ‘tentacles’ out of WA

“I think it’s a real statement of our investment in making sure that these policy priorities not only get heard in both chambers, but early enough in session that we can get everything across the finish line,” said state Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, upending nearly 50 years of what had been national protections on abortion and setting off a cascade of state action on abortion policy.

In states like Washington, where Democrats hold a significant majority, that has meant pushes to preserve and facilitate abortion access.


State lawmakers are proposing policies to address a range of legal and other issues concerning reproductive care, including proposals to protect abortion providers in Washington from facing retaliation from other states, and to lower costs for patients.

Tuesday’s actions drew both supporters and opponents of abortion rights to testify in person and remotely, and many brought personal stories of experiencing pregnancy and seeking abortions.

Abortion-rights supporters rallied on the north steps of the Capitol in the afternoon, joined by lawmakers, while roughly a dozen anti-abortion protesters stood nearby.

The rally, organized by Pro-Choice Washington and including groups such as ACLU Washington, Cedar River Clinics, Planned Parenthood and Legal Voice, drew various generations Tuesday. Among them was Amy Myers, of Sammamish, who held a sign saying “Ruth Sent Us” — referring to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

She chuckled as she recalled how she protested for the same right 50 years ago. “I hope it just goes through real easy and Washington state gets its law in the constitution,” Myers said.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who has asked lawmakers to change the state constitution to enshrine the right to abortion and contraception access, testified in favor of the amendment early Tuesday.


“What we considered fixed in the American constellation of Democratic values turned out to be very fragile,” Inslee said of the overturning of Roe. “And we cannot be lulled into thinking that that same thing cannot be the case in the state of Washington. Already 24 states have taken action to limit a woman’s right of choice.”

The amendment faces a steep path to passage, as it requires some Republican support to meet a two-thirds threshold in each chamber. If it does pass, it would appear before Washington voters on the November general election ballot.

Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, questioned Inslee on the need for a constitutional amendment. Washington voters in 1991 approved Initiative 120, which codified Roe into state law.

“I offer to you, Mr. Governor, that the law is settled here,” Rivers said. “And look at the makeup of the Legislature and the makeup of our Supreme Court. … Political theater aside, I don’t see any, any world in which Washington state changes course on this issue.”

I’m trying to say this in a respectful way: What world are you living in?” Inslee responded. “There is a party in our state that wakes up every single morning trying to take away this right from women. And in multiple states, unfortunately, in multiple states, they have done so effectively.”

Republicans have proposed measures to restrict abortions, which are unlikely to get hearings or any other forward movement.


Abortion is legal in Washington up to the point of viability, or roughly 23 to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and to protect the life or health of the pregnant person. While the constitutional amendment is not likely to get through the legislative process, six other proposals require a simple majority and face an easier path to passage.

These include a proposal to prohibit out-of-pocket costs, including copays, for patients seeking abortions.

Committees also heard Tuesday from the public on House Bill 1155, which would put up guardrails around companies’ collection of user health data and stop them from selling it, and on a proposal that would shield Washingtonians if they provide or get reproductive health services in a state where those services are illegal, and then face a lawsuit or criminal charges in that state.

Lawmakers have also moved to prevent health care providers from facing discipline in Washington if they provide reproductive or gender-affirming health care in line with Washington law, even if the patient lives out of state.

Seattle Times staff reporter Jadenne Radoc Cabahug contributed to this report.