Washington passes bill to become "shield" for minors seeking abortions and sex change surgeries

The state Senate passed a bill that will prevent people who undergo one of these procedures from being penalized by the states where they are illegal.

The Washington Senate passed a bill that will turn the state into a shield for women seeking abortions - including minors - and children and teenagers seeking treatment gender reassignment against judicial or police actions in states where such procedures are illegal. The initiative will go into effect as soon as it is signed by Governor Jay Inslee, as it includes an urgency clause.

Shelters will not be able to inform parents

HB 1469 (known as the Shield Law) was approved by the House of Representatives on February 28, 2009. The new law will allow people who wish to have an abortion or minors who wish to undergo gender reassignment surgery from states where these procedures are illegal to bring the child to Washington to receive those services. In addition, the police and courts will not be authorized to get an arrest warrant from another state for violating the laws there.

Washington companies are also prohibited from releasing medical records or information related to abortions of minors or gender-based surgeries in compliance with court orders or subpoenas from other states. The initiative has a companion bill in the Senate (SB 5499), which won't require shelters or foster homes to inform parents that their children are there if the minor is seeking an abortion or a sex change surgery.

"The biggest lawsuit you will ever see in the state"

The sponsor of the bill, Democratic Senator Yasmin Trudeau, said, "The purpose of this bill is to ensure that those seeking care or those providing care…in this state are shielded from liability. We support the right to that access. This is an issue of freedom."

However, opponents of the bill, such as Republican Senator Jim McCune, warned that its passage will provoke the "biggest lawsuit you will ever see in the state." McCune introduced an amendment to make the law applicable only from the age of 18, which was rejected. The veteran legislator said that this is "another bill in a long line that supports genital mutilation of children and erodes the family relationship. This bill is unnecessary and dangerous for children in the state of Washington and coming out of state. You will never change that DNA. They will always be women and men."

"Promoting abortion tourism"

Conservative Senator Mike Padden said that the bill runs counter to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that states respect each other's court orders and subpoenas. "We are trying to negate laws of other states in order to promote abortion tourism or promote these operations on our young people under the age of 18," he said. "When we violate or try to negate these laws, we've gone too far."

This law is similar to the one passed in Minnesota to make the state a "safe haven" for trans children. Similar to that case, lawmakers passed a bill that prevents anyone from being detained or suffering retaliation from a third state because a minor undergoes a sex change procedure.