Washington State Passes Law Blocking Texas-Style Lawsuits Against Abortion Providers

Washington state has moved to prohibit people from filing lawsuits against abortion providers and people who seek the abortion.

The move is designed to counter recently-passed laws in Texas and Idaho that allow private citizens to file lawsuits against abortion providers.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who signed the measure into law on Thursday, said that the bill “is necessary,” adding he believes it is “a perilous time for the ability of people to have the freedom of choice that they have enjoyed for decades.”

The measure will take effect in June. It prohibits the state from taking action against an woman who seeks an abortion, or against anyone who is helping a woman in seeking one.

In neighboring Idaho, the state’s legislature on March 14 passed a measure that would allow family members of the pregnant woman to file lawsuits against the abortion provider for cases performed after six weeks of pregnancy. The civil action, which would have to be filed within four years after the alleged abortion, would seek a minimum of $20,000 in damages, and legal fees.

“To the citizens of Idaho, if Idaho will not stand up for your constitutional rights, we will,” Inslee said before signing the bill.

The Idaho legislation is modeled after a similar law in Texas that allows private citizens to bring lawsuits against abortion providers. In Texas, the lawsuits can be filed against anyone suspected of having helped the woman have an abortion, for up to $10,000 and legal fees for each successful suit.

Abortion providers sued to overturn the Texas law and the case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which threw out most of the arguments against the Texas law. The lawsuit ultimately made its way to the Texas Supreme Court, whose ruling on March 11 effectively ended the legal challenge to the Texas abortion ban and its unique enforcement mechanism.

Data released by the Texas Health and Human Services showed that the number of abortions carried out in Texas fell by 60 percent after the Texas abortion law, called the Texas Heartbeat Act, went into effect on Sept. 1, 2021. Specifically, a total of 5,404 abortions were carried out in Texas clinics in August 2021, compared to 2,197 in September 2021.

The Texas Policy Evaluation Project said in October 2021 (pdf) that no other measure restricting abortion has seen such a large reduction in the procedures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times