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Washington Senate passes 'shield' bill for underage abortions, gender surgery

Opponents warn that the legislation, which would take effect as soon as it's signed by Gov. Jay Inslee due to its emergency clause, could instigate retaliatory responses from other states.

April 11, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: April 11, 2023 11:00pm

The Washington Senate has passed a bill previously voted on by the House that would prohibit Washington law enforcement agencies or the courts from enforcing other states' laws regarding abortion or gender surgeries.

However, opponents warn that the legislation, which would take effect as soon as it's signed by Gov. Jay Inslee due to its emergency clause, could instigate retaliatory responses from those states.

Speaking on the Senate floor prior to the 29-20 vote, Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham, warned that HB 1469 will lead to the "biggest lawsuit you will ever see in the state." The sponsor of a failed amendment restricting the bill's scope to those 18 years or older criticized it as "another bill in a long line that supports genital mutilation of children and erodes the family relationship. This bill is unnecessary and dangerous for children in the state of Washington and coming out of state. You will never change that DNA. They will always be women and men."

Under HB 1469, individuals seeking abortions or gender surgeries for underage children who live in states where it is illegal could take or bring the child into Washington for those services, and police and the courts would not be allowed to arrest them on an out-of-state warrant for violating that state's laws.

Washington businesses would also not be allowed to comply with out-of-state warrants or subpoenas for medical records or information related to underage abortions or gender surgeries. The legislation appropriates $1 million through the 2027-29 biennium to the State Attorney General's Office to enforce the provisions.

If enacted along with SB 5499, runaway youths from other states would not have to be reported by shelters or "host homes" to the parents if the child is seeking an abortion or gender surgery.

The sponsor of the Senate companion bill for HB 1469, Sen. Yasmin Trudeau, D-Tacoma, told colleagues that "the purpose of this bill is to ensure that those seeking care or those providing care…in this state are shielded from liability. We support the right to that access. This is an issue of freedom."

However, critics like Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, noted the chamber is considering a separate bill that would prohibit a juvenile court adjudication from being included defendant's offender score for the purpose of adult felony sentencing on the basis that "adolescent's perception, judgment, and decision making differs significantly from that of adults," according to the bill language.

"We've already made the decision you need to be 18 for tattoos," Fortunato said. "You need to be 21 to smoke cigarettes. You need to be 21 to buy a long gun. But this is so simple, it should be a no-brainer."

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, insisted that the bill would run afoul of the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause, which stipulates states honor each other's warrants and subpoenas.

"We are trying to negate laws of other states in order to promote abortion tourism or promote these operations on our young people under the age of 18," he said. "When we violate or try to negate these laws, we've gone too far."

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