Abortion seekers and healthcare providers now have access to free legal assistance in Washington through a new website.
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Attorney General (AG) Bob Ferguson announced last week that help is now accessible at abortiondefensenetwork.org. Site visitors will be connected to attorneys in a nationwide pro bono network, which includes several Washington law firms that the AG’s office recruited. They will provide free legal guidance and resources.
“Radical laws in other states are creating chaos for providers, out-of-state patients, and individuals assisting their friends and family to access healthcare,” Ferguson said in a statement. “The changing legal landscape is causing providers and others to question whether they face legal jeopardy by helping someone come to Washington for legal abortion care. This resource will help them navigate these important issues and protect their freedoms.”
The state has responded to the US Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last June in numerous ways. Gov. Jay Inslee was one of 20 governors included in a non-partisan coalition of 20 governors working to strengthen reproductive freedom through the new Reproductive Freedom Alliance, which was announced last week. Inslee also recently testified at a Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee meeting in support of Senate Joint Resolution 8202, which would strengthen reproductive rights in the state’s constitution.
In addition to establishing the new legal assistance website, the AG’s office also produced a new brochure and form for Washingtonians to use to file complaints about violations to their reproductive rights. The brochure serves as a guide to state law protections for abortion and contraception access. It includes information about access for pregnant people from other states, insurance coverage for abortion care, and emergency contraception access.
Planned Parenthood told Crosscut that 62% of patients at its Pullman clinic, which is 10 miles from the Idaho border, were from Idaho in June. That number jumped to 78% in July.
Washington Department of Health data shows that between May 2020 and the end of October 2022, there were nearly 1,400 emergency department visits in Washington where abortion was used to treat an emergency medical condition, including life-threatening pregnancy complications. More than a third of those visits happened within the past year.