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Seattle City Council passes legislation adding protections for abortion seekers

The Seattle City Council passed legislation Tuesday that adds more protections for those seeking an abortion or gender-affirming care.

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council passed legislation on Tuesday that adds more protections for those seeking an abortion or gender-affirming care.

For Ashley Fedan, being involved in women’s reproductive healthcare is a calling, but in her line of work threats and intimidation can happen.

“At an abortion clinic where I worked, we had chalk drawings on in the parking lot that said 'murderers,'” said Fedan, a CRNA, and abortion rights advocate.

The city council passed legislation that makes it a misdemeanor to interfere with someone seeking an abortion or gender-affirming care.

That includes physical obstruction, trespassing, harassing phone calls, or threats of violence against patients or healthcare workers. The Seattle City Attorney's office would be the ones to prosecute violations.

“I appreciate the fact that there's a penalty for intentional intimidation,” said Fedan.

Fedan wants patients to know that this move gives added protection at clinics.

“These pre-emptive ordinances are going to be incredibly impactful in making sure that people, it's not just women, need access to care, it's everyone and they can do it safely without intimidation,” said Fedan.

The second piece of legislation adds new civil rights protections. It would get the Seattle Office for Civil Rights involved to investigate alleged discrimination based on pregnancy outcomes.

Not everyone agrees with the city council's actions. Brad Payne with the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an anti-abortion group wants to see the Seattle City Council take different measures like financially supporting crisis pregnancy centers.

“It doesn't mean that everybody that goes to a crisis pregnancy center, chooses to go ahead and carry that baby to term, but there are certainly a fair number of women that change their mind, once they've seen that ultrasound,” said Payne.

On Friday, Councilmember Morales plans to introduce a third piece of legislation that would ensure those crisis pregnancy centers don't make false or misleading statements.

The two bills that passed Tuesday now head to the mayor’s desk for his signature, then it would take 30 days for the laws to take effect.

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