Washington to Protect All Reproductive Choices

The state of Washington is working to ensure that women have unfettered access to the reproductive healthcare that they need.  The state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced last week that any hospital in Washington that provides maternity care must continue to offer “substantially equivalent benefits” in the form of contraception and abortion services.

The announcement reaffirms women’s rights and personal choice in the state, which has had legalized abortion since 1970.  Voters have, for over 40 years, acknowledged a fundamental right to choose reproductive services and gain access to contraception.  In 1991, voters further approved an initiative that required hospitals with maternity care to also offer abortion and contraception.  Last week’s decision by the Attorney General clarifies and strengthens that law.

Contraception and reproductive healthcare have recently become a question in the state after a number of mergers of smaller hospitals with Catholic organizations.  The state, in response to questions arising from these mergers, made the decision to protect individual choice and guarantee that Washington women can access a full range of health services.  Medical decisions throughout the state will continue to be made between a woman and her doctor, without state or religious interference.

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