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Washington State lawmakers pass shield law for abortion procedures

Washington state legislators approved a shield law on Tuesday that offers protection to out-of-state gender-affirming and reproductive care patients and state officials.

Washington State lawmakers passed a shield law on Tuesday offering protection to anyone traveling from out-of-state for abortions.

The House voted 59-38 on House Bill 1469, which was part of a package of bills introduced in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in July 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision in 1973 that legalized abortion.

"We believe in reproductive freedom here in Washington State, and we will use every tool we have to protect people in Washington from the reach of anti-abortion laws in Texas and elsewhere," Democratic State Rep. Drew Hansen said. "If other states want to be creative and aggressive in restricting abortion, we will be creative and aggressive in fighting back."

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Gov. Jay Inslee, who still needs to sign the bill into law, tweeted about the legislation and praised pro-choice legislators for their work.

"Two important bills to protect access to abortion care are on a steady track to my desk," the governor said. "Thanks to our pro-choice legislators, WA is and will remain a pro-choice state."

Hansen’s bill prohibits the issuance of out-of-state subpoenas seeking information related to abortion and reproductive health services, along with out-of-state criminal investigations and arrests seeking communication and evidence related to abortions and reproductive health care services.

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The bill also prohibits the governor from extraditing anyone for out-of-state charges regarding reproductive health care services, while also providing a cause of action to recoup damages and other legal costs for hostile out-of-state lawsuits relating to reproductive health care services.

"HB 1469 will help safeguard health care in Washington state, sending a clear message to patients from across the country: Washington will always support you, even if your home states will not," Courtney Normand, the state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates said in a press release from Hansen’s office.

In October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a series of bills designed to shield California state law enforcement officers, medical providers and tech companies from complying with subpoenas or cooperating with investigations from out-of-state entities related to any abortions that occur legally in California.

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