Although we live in a progressive state, access to reproductive healthcare is not guaranteed for every person in Washington. This is due to uneven distribution of resources and services across the state, and an historic lack of representation and omission of intersectional issues within the reproductive freedom movement. All of which are critical for communities to gain equitable access to reproductive healthcare.
Our work at state and local levels is now more important than ever. Reproductive rights across the country have slowly been rolled back – including for our neighbors in Idaho – resulting in challenges to Roe v. Wade, such as the passage of the Texas Senate Bill 8 and the forthcoming Dobbs v. Jackson in Mississippi.
This situation is a rallying cry for people all across Washington state and the region. Join hands with us to advocate for key issues and protect our reproductive freedom.
Patient care denials are a primary threat to equitable abortion and reproductive care access in Washington state. Over the past decade, under-regulated health system mergers have led to fewer, more expensive, and less safe reproductive healthcare options for patients, mostly in Eastern Washington and rural counties. Patients are being denied reproductive, gender-affirming, abortion and end-of-life care. For example, the number of hospital beds, within facilities with policies that restrict patient care has increased from 26% to 50% in the past ten years. This has resulted in near-death experiences for patients and the reprimanding of medical providers for following the Hippocratic Oath. We are working to pass policies that shed light on future hospital mergers and that protect patients and their providers who give life-saving care.
Washington state laws protect access to abortion, but do not guarantee equitable access for each and every person. Barriers to access include systemic racism, discrimination, unaffordable services, and limited facilities and providers. And these barriers disproportionately fall on historically excluded communities, including Black and Indigenous, LGBTQI+, low-income and under-insured, immigrant, and rural. For example, every hospital bed in Whatcom County is subject to discriminatory care restrictions. The closest abortion clinic is an average drive of 24 minutes and only provides first trimester abortions, while the closest clinic that provides 2nd trimester abortions is 99 miles away. This is why we advocate for policies to expand coverage, protect a wide range of services, patients, and providers, and support anti-bias training for medical professionals.
Limited resources exist for individuals, providers, and clinics seeking or providing abortion and reproductive healthcare in Washington state. This includes under-funded government programs, challenges around insurance coverage and Medicaid reimbursement, prohibitive transportation fees, and high private provider costs. Washington state taxes fund family planning, Medicaid reimbursements for abortion, and comprehensive family leave policies. So, any budget shortage negatively affects reproductive healthcare access and other critical social programs. Thus, we advocate for issues to improve revenue, such as supporting progressive revenue legislation to correct our state’s unbalanced tax code, which puts a higher tax burden on lower-income individuals. Ultimately, the awareness and availability of resources determines whether comprehensive reproductive health care is available and accessible for all people in the state.
Historically, the reproductive rights movement has over-represented cis-gender white women; and it is essential that all people see themselves reflected in and positively impacted by the reproductive freedom movement. BIPOC individuals, non-binary and gender nonconforming people, as well as trans men, need abortion and parental care, and they have been historically left out of the conversation. Also, cis-men and co-parents are a key part of the reproduction process and important voices in advocating for abortion access. So, we are creating an inclusive movement with new and fully representative voices participating in grassroots activism and mobilizing their communities. Our work includes expanding our activist chapter model, providing virtual training, and supporting virtual participation in lobbying activities during the legislative session.