Target: Washington state attorney General Bob Ferguson
Goal: Applaud Bob Ferguson’s advisory opinion that public hospitals cannot deny women’s access to abortion care
The state of Washington has historically been a pioneer in the fight to preserve women’s reproductive rights. In 1970, citizens in the state voted to make abortion a fundamental statutory right. Now the state is working to make sure that all public hospitals give women abortion care. The state attorney general Bob Ferguson recently announced his advisory opinion that all public health districts in the state that offer maternity care must also make abortion services and contraception available to women. Ferguson expects all public hospitals to comply with his opinion. Summer of 2013 has been very bad one in terms of preserving women’s reproductive rights throughout the country, as republican lawmakers have waged an assault on women’s access to abortion. Washington’s defense of a woman’s right to choose must be commended.
Ferguson’s opinion came as a response to burgeoning tension between the state’s abortion law and the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops. A 1991 measure granted all Washington residents the right to choose or refuse an abortion or contraception, but facilities in the state could not deny any citizen from exercising this fundamental right to choose. Thus, public hospitals that deliver babies must provide women with both abortion services and birth control. However, the state has a plethora of private Catholic hospitals that refuse to provide abortion services and have set many limitations on providing contraception. These Catholic institutions have begun to merge with non-Catholic hospitals, which end up limiting women’s access to abortion services. The Catholic Church currently operates over 600 hospitals throughout the United States. Statistics show that one in every six patients receive their healthcare at a hospital run by the Catholic church. The staunchly pro-life stance taken by the Catholic church has hindered women’s ability to access abortion services.
Lawmakers have expressed their concern about the small, local hospitals associating themselves with larger Catholic health associations. Some public hospitals will only associate themselves with Catholic health associations. Lawmakers thus worry that public hospitals are breaking the state measure about abortion services by allying with Catholic institutions in order to halt women from having access to reproductive health care.
Ferguson’s statement asserts that public hospitals are not allowed to circumnavigate the progressive abortion law in the state. Only women and their doctors can make medical decisions regarding their reproductive healthcare. Public hospitals must provide all reproductive services despite their affiliation with Catholic groups and institutions. Ferguson’s opinion must be applauded as a step to ensure that women get their entitled healthcare without the infringement of religious doctrine. Please sign this petition to applaud the efforts of Washington State’s attorney general to preserve the reproductive rights of women in his state that are enshrined in state law.
Dear Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson,
We applaud you for your efforts to preserve a woman’s right to choose that has been enshrined in both federal and state law for several decades. In 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that women legally have a right to choose whether to have an abortion or not. Moreover, Washington State decided that very same year that women had a fundamental right to refuse or choose to have an abortion.
Recently, many public hospitals in Washington have affiliated themselves with Catholic organizations or have merged with private Catholic hospitals. There is a concern that such efforts are being down to circumvent the progressive abortion laws in Washington. We commend your efforts to make sure that a woman’s right to choose in Washington enshrined in law is preserved and enforced.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Scythril via Flickr