Have you ever thought: Does my vote really count? Who cares about a School Board position? What does a City Council member even do? This month’s election results should make it clear that your vote matters and local positions like these have a lot of influence on access to abortion and reproductive healthcare.
Municipal races, which take place during odd years in Washington state, tend to receive less attention and coverage than presidential or congressional elections. Because of this, it’s easy to overlook the influence of municipal positions on critical reproductive healthcare policies.
Council members and School Board Directors decide whether social programs receive funding, which directly impacts your ability to access healthcare information and resources. They also decide how well policies like the comprehensive sex education bill we helped pass in 2020 are implemented across the state. And they enforce – or fail to enforce – policies that hold people accountable for dangerous and violent abortion clinic harassment. All of these decisions impact reproductive freedom today and for generations to come.
Spokane shows us why municipal elections matter
Spokane is a good example of why municipal elections matter. Last year, Spokane City Council passed an ordinance to limit noise disturbances at health care facilities. This was passed in response to disruptive protests, designed to prevent patients from receiving reproductive healthcare, by the anti-abortion group The Church at Planned Parenthood (TCAPP). It was the small but vocal progressive majority within the Spokane City Council in 2020 who led the effort to pass this ordinance. And the loss of this small majority could mean fewer protections for abortion access in Spokane.
And this year, Pro-Choice Washington endorsed progressive champion Naghmana Sherazi for Spokane City Council. She won her primary by just four votes, and unfortunately lost in the general election. Her winning opponent Jonathan Bingle stated in an endorsement survey that “abortion is the greatest moral evil” and that an “organization that performs abortions will never receive a vote from me to receive funding.” This shows how every vote is needed to help sustain a power structure that supports reproductive freedom.
Thankfully, Pro-Choice Washington-backed candidates Zack Zappone and Riley Smith won their races for Spokane City Council and Spokane School Director, respectively. We are confident both officials-elect will be outspoken supporters of abortion access.
Let’s look ahead and gear up for 2022 elections
In 2022, 87% of the Washington state legislature is up for election – every State Representative and half of the State Senate. This is an important opportunity to maintain supportive majorities in the state legislature and to build a stronger coalition of outspoken champions who will unapologetically tackle the barriers to affordable and equitable abortion and reproductive healthcare across our state.
We only regained a reproductive freedom majority in the Washington State Senate in 2017. This victory has allowed us to make substantial progress on passing bold and necessary policies like Mandatory Comprehensive Sex Education, Protecting Pregnant Patients Act, a Capital Gains Tax, and a Working Families Tax Credit.
We cannot lose the momentum we’ve built over the last four years!
What you can do
Together, we can sustain a reproductive freedom majority through democratic participation and local organizing:
- Sign up for our legislative action team to learn how to effectively advocate for reproductive freedom priorities in the next legislative session, early-2022
- Join our membership base and stay up to date on the changing abortion access and reproductive freedom landscape in Washington state and across the country
- Donate to Pro-Choice Washington and Pro-Choice Washington PAC to support our candidate endorsement and grassroots mobilization work in 2022
- Read our November 2021 Election Brief to learn more about how the recent election results impact reproductive freedom in Washington
Electing outspoken advocates for abortion and reproductive healthcare into municipal and state offices is essential to protect and promote reproductive healthcare in Washington state. Will you join me?