'I have huge worries about women': Planned Parenthood Northwest CEO reacts to Supreme Court opening

SEATTLE -- The announcement of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court hit Chris Charbonneau hard Wednesday.

“I thought, oh no,” said Charbonneau.

As the CEO of Planned Parenthood Northwest, Charbonneau said a more conservative replacement to the bench would impact women’s lives.

“I have huge worries about the safety of women in health care. I have huge worries about women being able to fulfill their highest potential,” said Charbonneau.

But she added that women in Washington would still be protected even if the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortions is overturned.

“Women in Washington would be in good shape. We worried that this day would come so we passed legislation,” said Charbonneau.

That legislation, the Reproductive Privacy Act, was passed in the early 1990s and it places the standards of Roe v. Wade into state law. So in case the Supreme Court in the future overturns the ruling, women in Washington state would continue to have the same rights they have now.

Gov. Jay Inslee made it clear where he stood Wednesday on Twitter, “In Washington state, as long as I am governor, I will protect a woman’s right to choose no matter what.”

Charbonneau says it’s women who would be traveling from other states she worries about.

“You would have women leaving the southern states of the country for the (West) Coast. And it’s dangerous and expensive and causes women to feel like criminals for doing what’s best for their families,” said Charbonneau.

If Kennedy’s replacement is deeply conservative, Charbonneau says she’s concerned about implications beyond abortions.

“If your birth control pill could be made to go away and IUDs could be made to go away, we wouldn’t be able to control unintended pregnancies and it would mean women wouldn’t be able to lead the kind of life they want to live,” said Charbonneau.

Kennedy’s seat is expected to be filled before the midterm elections on Nov. 6.