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The American Independent

Washington Legislature passes bill protecting access to abortion and gender-affirming care

H.B. 1469, which would protect those who travel to Washington for health care services from legal repercussions in other states, now goes to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

By Will Fritz - April 13, 2023
Jay Inslee, Seattle skyline
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at a rally at a park overlooking Seattle. Inslee said that Washington state would remain a pro-choice state and that women would continue to be able to access safe and affordable abortions. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Washington State Legislature this week passed what it refers to as a “shield law” that protects anyone who travels to the state for gender-affirming or abortion care from being subject to legal action in another state.

H.B. 1469 passed April 10 in the Senate on a party-line vote of 29-20.

It had previously gone through in the House of Representatives Feb. 28 by a vote of 59-38, and now heads to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature. If signed into law, H.B. 1469 will define most gender-affirming or reproductive care as a protected class of health care, with a host of safeguards to prevent other states from restricting their own residents from seeking such care in Washington.

H.B. 1469 defines protected gender-affirming treatment broadly as any “health services or products that support and affirm an individual’s gender identity.” It specifically includes mental health care as well as any medical or surgical treatments in this definition.

The bill’s definition of protected reproductive health care is similarly expansive. It includes all services, from surgery to mental health care, relating to the human reproductive system, and specifically mentions “all services, care and products” relating to reproduction, contraception, pregnancy and the termination of pregnancy, including self-managed pregnancy termination.

H.B. 1469 would restrict businesses in the state from complying with subpoenas related to the protected services.

It also bars courts from allowing subpoenas to be issued to anyone in Washington in relation to protected health care services, even preventing Washington’s governor from allowing anyone to be extradited to other states on the basis of receiving protected health care services that are legal within Washington.

Beyond that, the bill creates a $10,000 penalty for anyone who requests issuance of a subpoena seeking “documents, information, or testimony related to the provision, receipt, attempted provision or receipt, assistance in the provision or receipt, or attempted assistance in the provision or receipt of protected health care services.”

In short, Washington law would contain protections for those who travel to the state for gender-affirming or abortion care from laws in other states restricting access to that care.

New Mexico and Illinois enacted similar shield laws in 2023; California and Massachusetts enacted shield laws last year.

The Washington Legislature’s passage of H.B. 1469 follows the enactment of two new laws in the neighboring state of Idaho: Republican Gov. Brad Little signed H.B. 71, which makes providing gender-affirming care to minors a felony offense, and H.B. 242, which bars an adult from transporting a pregnant minor for abortion-related health care unless they are that minor’s parent.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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