SEATTLE — Tuesday’s vote by the Seattle City Council made it a sanctuary city for patients and providers of abortion. This means that Seattle police won’t cooperate with investigations or arrests related to bans on abortion in other states.
The bill was introduced by Councilmember Kshama sawant at a press conference on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court revoked decades-old constitutional safeguards against abortion. The Seattle Times reported that it makes Seattle a “sanctuary” city for people who provide or seek abortion.
Abortion remains legal in Washington, but the new law prohibits Seattle police officers from arresting anyone on warrants that were issued elsewhere or aiding in investigations related to performing or seeking abortions. This legislation follows the example of Seattle’s Initiative 75,, which also stopped Seattle Police Departments from prosecuting people for cannabis-related charges.
“Laws that violate basic bodily autonomy or criminalize reproductive health care services are fundamentally unfair and Seattle should not be allowed to be complicit,” Sawant stated Tuesday. He cited the support of 5 ,500 members who signed a petition supporting the legislation.
The Washington state governor. Jay Inslee joined Oregon and California in refusing nonfugitive extradition to individuals who are facing criminal charges for receiving reproductive healthcare services. However, Inslee’s expulsion measure was only applicable to the state police.
All three states expect an increase in abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling overturning Roe V. Wade. This 1973 decision had previously granted a constitutional right, particularly as neighbors like Idaho are trying to ban or restrict abortion.
Sawant stated that she hopes Seattle will set an example for how to provide reproductive health care to those who are denied it. She noted that members of the Minneapolis and Chicago councils had approached her, which indicated their intention to adopt similar policies.
” If bringing it to this city can help spread it to other states and cities, it could have a profound impact,” Sawant stated before voting.
All six members of the council approved the bill at Tuesday’s meeting. Three were not present.
Mayor Bruce Harrell stated in June that Seattle police wouldn’t pursue arrests for related offenses “that are incompatible with Washington laws and most importantly our values.” However, Sawant’s protection is the first in concrete form in the city following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The council will be considering two bills in August to help protect women seeking abortion from discrimination, and punish people who interfer with healthcare including gender-affirming and abortions. Councilmembers Tammy Morales and Lisa Herbold introduced the bills last week.
” I’m looking forward to finding ways to expand access to abortion and to protect what can only call medical refugees, those who have arrived here but cannot get basic healthcare in their own countries,” Herbold stated Tuesday.