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Washington

Freedom of Choice Act

Washington has created additional protections for reproductive rights by adding an affirmative right to choose into its state law.  In 1991, Washington voters narrowly passed this law via a ballot initiative, reaffirming the holdings of Roe v. Wade in the state.  The initiative was so close that the final results had to wait on the full count of absentee ballots.  The ballot initiative also reaffirmed a fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control.  This law ensures women's access to pre-viability abortion services and would remain in effect even if Roe v. Wade were overturned.  Absentee Ballots Put Washington Abortion Rights Initiative Ahead, Assoc. Press, Nov. 14, 1991.

"The sovereign people hereby declare that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions.  Accordingly, it is the public policy of the state of Washington that:  (1) Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control; (2) Every woman has the fundamental right to choose or refuse to have an abortion . . . ; (3) . . . the state shall not deny or interfere with a woman's fundamental right to choose or refuse to have an abortion; and (4) The state shall not discriminate against the exercise of these rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information."  Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.02.100 (Enacted by Initiative 1991).  Additionally, "[t]he state may not deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose to have an abortion prior to viability of the fetus, or to protect her life or health."  Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.02.110 (Enacted by Initiative 1991).


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