Seattle residents, healthcare officials react to possible SCOTUS overturn of Roe v. Wade

President Joe Biden said overturning Roe v. Wade could unravel a "whole range of rights." While some local healthcare members said they agreed with the President, Washington’s oldest pro-life organization said the overturn would restore abortion decisions to state government.

The potential of Roe v. Wade being overturned has some in healthcare concerned of a future public health crisis.

"Because it’s made illegal does not mean that abortion won’t continue to happen. It happened long before 50 years ago, and it will continue. We won’t have safe abortion," said Sue Averill, a nurse who is outraged by the leaked overturn draft.

Averill is a nurse who travels the world providing care for women. She said she believes restricting abortion, or making it illegal, is not just about women.

"It’s about privacy. The law as we have lived it your entire life—most of my life—is based on privacy. And when privacy goes, there’s a lot of other things that are going to go: contraception, marriage equality," said Averill.

Representatives with Human Life of Washington said they’re hopeful the leaked draft becomes reality.

"Most likely what would happen would be the abortion issue would be turned back to the states. And that’s where it needs to be. Each state needs to have the right with their own elected officials to decide how abortion ought to be handled within their own area," said Sarah Davenport-Smith, spokesperson for Human Life of Washington.

Dr. Molly Altman is an assistant professor in the University of Washington School of Nursing and nurse midwife. Her scientific research focuses on respectful and equitable care during pregnancy and childbirth. She said she believed it’s not just abortion that would be impacted by the overturn.

"It has the impact of increasing poverty, increasing other disparities. There are very much healthcare disparities for [Black people, Indigenous people and people of color] for those who do not have access to health insurance," said Altman. "What you’re actually doing is forcing people to potentially be in poverty, or to remain in relationships that are violent, or to have much greater impacts in terms of our healthcare system. We’re talking about pretty serious economic impacts for people as well."

While abortion laws in several states could shift, Governor Jay Inslee said Washington will continue offering women the right to choose. Davenport-Smith said Human Life of Washington hopes women choose life.

"We’re still going to push for improvement in women’s health and protection for every unborn child," said Davenport-Smith. "We want to heal our women. That’s one of the things Human Life of Washington has been working on in particular these past few years—really improving its abortion recovery outreach."


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee promises to defend abortion rights at Seattle rally

In response to a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would throw out the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state would provide sanctuary for women outside the state seeking abortions and would explore ways to codify abortion rights in the state’s Constitution.

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"We want to make sure that patients maintain their ability to make choices and do what is best for them and for their bodies and for their families. This is definitely a devastating blow for all of us who are trying to provide that care for folks," said Altman.