OLYMPIA — President Joe Biden met Friday with Democratic governors, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, to learn what they’re doing to preserve access to abortion services in their states and to lay out how his administration intends to help.
The meeting, conducted virtually, also provided the president and nine governors a forum to vent frustration with the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, letting states decide whether abortion is allowed and under what circumstances.
Biden told governors the Department of Justice will intercede if any state that outlaws abortion tries to prevent a person from obtaining federally approved abortion pills or traveling to another state, like Washington, where abortion is legal.
The public will be shocked when the first state tries to arrest a person going across state lines, the president said.
“I don’t think people think it’s going to happen,” he said. “But it’s gonna happen.
Abortion has been legal in Washington since voters approved a 1970 referendum. In 1991, voters narrowly approved Initiative 120, declaring a woman has a right to choose a physician-performed abortion prior to fetal viability.
In recent years, Inslee signed new laws expanding access and legal protections, while also requiring health plans that offer maternity care services to cover abortion and contraception.
“It’s clear to me the president is committed to exercising every tool possible and to assist us in being a sanctuary to patients across the country,” Inslee said following the meeting. “I, and the other governors, strongly appreciate that.”
On Thursday, Inslee issued a directive instructing the Washington State Patrol to not cooperate with out-of-state abortion investigations, a pre-emptive move in case states where abortion is banned seek to investigate residents who travel to the state.
Any request received by the patrol must be reviewed by the attorney general’s office and the governor’s attorney. Inslee also must be informed.
“Washington is and will remain a sanctuary for any person seeking abortion care and services in our state, but we must act to protect our rights and our values,” Inslee wrote in his directive.