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Council declares Roe v. Wade ‘the law of the land,’ pledges support for reproductive freedom

Summary

The King County Council on Tuesday passed legislation declaring its support for reproductive freedom and that the Roe v. Wade decision, even if overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, is the “law of the land” In King County.

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The King County Council on Tuesday passed legislation declaring its support for reproductive freedom and that the Roe v. Wade decision, even if overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, is the “law of the land” In King County.

“If the Supreme Court moves forward with this outrageous decision, they will take away the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies,” Balducci said. “As a nation, we must stand up to this kind of restriction on freedom and autonomy, in the same way we condemn assaults on freedom in any other country in the world. We must also renew our commitment to making abortion care widely accessible in King County and Washington state, including to anyone who needs to flee their own home in order to exercise their reproductive rights safely, legally and with dignity.”

Councilmembers Claudia Balducci and Jeanne Kohl-Welles brought the motion forward in response to last week’s reports of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. A decision to overrule Roe would lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, though it was unclear if the draft opinion would represent the court’s final word. If Roe v. Wade is overturned and states implement bans on abortion, Washington state would likely become the closest abortion provider for many more individuals, with projected increases of up to 385%, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Dave Upthegrove, Sarah Perry, Girmay Zahilay and Joe McDermott also cosponsored the motion.

Gov. Jay Inslee has already said in no uncertain terms that Washington would remain a haven of reproductive freedom, whatever the court decides. Given the potential increase in people seeking abortions in Washington, councilmembers felt it was important to join him by affirming their support for the right to choose.

“Last week’s leaked draft decision indicating the Supreme Court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade is a signal that no rights are completely settled but must be defended and strengthened at all levels of government, all the time,” Kohl-Welles said. “As a mother of five, I can tell you that the choice to have a child is a deeply personal and influential one, and one that no one should be forced into due to laws made by others who have never walked in their shoes. Today’s motion is meant to affirm that King County is a safe place for individuals with uteruses to seek comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortions, and that as a Council, we stand ready to support the right to privacy for all people.”

ADDITIONAL QUOTES:

Councilmember Sarah Perry:
“The women who are most impacted by this decision are those who are not paid a family wage, those who are struggling with need, and those who are most at risk. At the end of the day, it is unconscionable that there could be a decision to disallow women the full sovereignty of their bodies. As women, and people with uteruses it must continue to be our unalienable right to make decisions about our own bodies and our own healthcare needs.”

Councilmember Rod Dembowski:
"The freedom of every woman to make her own decisions, free from government intervention with respect to her reproductive health is a fundamental human and civil right. King County will do everything in our power to protect that right. For residents and visitors alike, King County will be a beacon of reproductive health freedom for every woman in America, and no group of politicians or judges in the other Washington will extinguish choice in King County." 

Councilmember Dave Upthegrove:
“The right of women to make their own decisions about their bodies and health care should be a constitutional right. It is critical, now more than ever, that we all do everything within our power to protect a woman's right to choose. I support today’s motion and also urge other state and local elected officials to support our community and ensure that reproductive rights stay both private and personal.”

Councilmember Girmay Zahilay:
“There is no right in the world more fundamental than the right to control your own bodies. No government should have the power to force pregnancy onto individuals prior to viability, especially when our governments and our economy simultaneously are creating oppressive conditions for new parents. The decision to repeal Roe v. Wade would endanger many lives, especially low-income people and people of color. We will continue to support reproductive rights in King County.”

Councilmember Joe McDermott:
“Access to safe, healthy abortion services is critical to ensure that all people, on their own terms, can make decisions about their personal health and wellbeing. This is a fundamental right that a deeply politicized and out-of-step Supreme Court cannot change, regardless of what they decide. All leaders in our region must recommit ourselves to ensure this basic, human right is upheld here in King County. There is so much more work to do.”

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