Superior court agrees with AG’s amicus brief on Reproductive Privacy Act
MOUNT VERNON — Skagit County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis ruled today that Skagit County Public Hospital District 1 has been violating the Reproductive Privacy Act by failing to provide elective abortion services when it provides a wide range of other maternity care services.
With the important ruling, Montoya-Lewis agreed with an amicus (friend of the court) brief filed by the Washington Attorney General’s Office.
“This is a great victory for reproductive rights in Washington,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “Washington voters decided many years ago in adopting Initiative 120 that if public entities provide maternity care services, they also must provide substantially equivalent abortion services. Women in Washington deserve to have that law enforced, and I am proud of the amicus brief my office filed to support this ruling.”
Initiative 120 specified that if a public entity in Washington provides “maternity care benefits, services or information to women through any program administered or funded in whole or in part by the state,” the entity “shall also provide women otherwise eligible for any such program with substantially equivalent benefits, services, or information to permit them to voluntarily terminate their pregnancies.”
Judge Montoya-Lewis held that Skagit County Public Hospital District 1 violated this requirement by providing extensive maternity care services but no elective abortion services. She cited the Attorney General’s brief in her ruling, noting the brief’s argument that “Washington has a long history of protecting women’s access to a wide range of reproductive health choices, including voluntary terminations.”
The Attorney General’s amicus brief was prepared by Assistant Attorney General Colleen Melody, chief of the office’s Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit, which Attorney General Ferguson created in 2015.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov