PRESS RELEASE: Abortion Rights Sanctuary City Legislation

Home » PRESS RELEASE: Abortion Rights Sanctuary City Legislation

June 24, 2022

Councilmember Sawant & Community Supporters Will Introduce Abortion Rights Sanctuary City Legislation, Urge WA State Legislature to Also Act

“We must make Seattle a sanctuary for pregnant people and their doctors and other care providers facing persecution for getting and performing abortions. Let anyone threatened by draconian anti-abortion laws come to Seattle without fear of prosecution!”

SEATTLE, WA – Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), held a press conference with community supporters earlier today in response to the Supreme Court Decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which overturned Roe v. Wade. Sawant announced that her office will introduce abortion rights sanctuary City legislation to prevent Seattle police officers from processing arrest warrants related to anti-abortion laws around the country, for both patients and their doctors and other care providers. Sawant further pledged to bring a People’s Budget amendment to the upcoming City budget to make access to abortion free for all those seeking sanctuary from anti-abortion laws around the country and for all Seattle residents.

Following the press conference, Sawant released the following statement:

“Today we face the single biggest attack on women, queer and pregnant people, and reproductive rights in most of our lifetimes, and this right-wing Supreme Court has also given every indication that they plan to carry out draconian attacks on LGBTQ rights. Working people cannot rely on the Democratic Party and their NGO allies, who failed to mount a fight against the right. We must get independently organized.

“We must make Seattle a sanctuary for pregnant people and their doctors and other care providers facing persecution for seeking and performing abortions. Laws violating basic bodily autonomy and criminalizing reproductive healthcare are fundamentally unjust, and our movement will not allow Seattle to be complicit.

My office is introducing legislation to prevent Seattle Police from arresting people, either patients or doctors, for outstanding warrants related to anti-abortion laws around the country. Let anyone threatened by draconian anti-abortion laws come to Seattle without fear of prosecution!

“I urge the Washington State Legislature to similarly pass urgent legislation to make our entire state a sanctuary for pregnant people and their care providers.

“As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, ‘one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws,’ and aiding the legal persecution of pregnant people and their doctors would be deeply unjust.

“The right has conducted this unconscionable attack on women, LGBTQ people, and their doctors, despite the fact that a powerful majority of Americans support abortion rights, and over seventy percent oppose dismantling Roe v. Wade.

“But controlling the House, Senate, and White House, President Biden and the Democratic Party could have defended abortions rights if they had the political will to do so. They could still eliminate the filibuster, just like Trump’s Republicans did in order to appoint right-wing Supreme Court justices. They could pass single-payer healthcare paid for by taxing billionaires. They could expand the size of the Supreme Court and appoint justices who support the right to bodily autonomy. But rather than do any of this, Democrats and their NGO allies failed to even mount a real fightback in the wake of the leaked ruling months ago.

“In fact, Democrats have had 50 years to codify Roe into law, with full control of all three branches of government under three Democratic presidents at the start of their terms, and they have utterly failed to do so. We need a new party for working people, women, queer, and all oppressed people that bases itself on social movements and fights unambiguously for our interests.

“Liberal feminism as a whole has proven to be completely bankrupt. The mass liberal women’s organizations, by relying on purely legalistic strategies and their dead-end alliance with the Democratic Party, rather than building mass movements, share responsibility for this historic defeat for women’s and queer rights. Fighting for our rights and winning back those we’ve lost means fighting for socialist feminism. We need a mass movement with democratic structures that can provide a headquarters for the struggle to defeat the right and protect (or win back) our right to bodily autonomy. This movement needs to have clearly defined political goals, democratic structures, and complete independence from the Democrats.

“Socialist organizations, unions, and social justice groups should join forces to launch such an organization. Necessary structures for our movement must be built so that demands, tactics, and strategy are democratically decided.

“We need to draw on some lessons from history. Roe v. Wade was not won in the first place due to some benevolence or wisdom of the justice system, or by some clever, bipartisan political strategy by the Democratic Party. Like all victories for the working class under capitalism, it was wrenched from the hands of the powerful by mass movements led by the rank and file.

“Roe v. Wade was won through the massive, combined pressure of the women’s movement, civil rights movement, anti-war movement, labor movement, and militant strike action by union workers. This was despite a conservative majority on the Supreme Court at that time, including recent Nixon appointees. But the court passed Roe out of the fear of the millions of people out on the streets in the U.S. at that time and a growing anti-establishment, anti-capitalist consciousness. We will need to rebuild similar militant mass action, led by the labor movement and rank-and-file workers, in order to defeat this attack.

“I urge Mayor Harrell, and all City elected officials to include in the next City Budget funding to make abortion in Seattle free for anyone fleeing states that have criminalized reproductive healthcare and for all Seattle residents. If they do not, I will be bringing forward a People’s Budget amendment on this issue myself.

“If my socialist Council Office’s legislation to make Seattle a sanctuary for abortion rights passes, and if you have had an abortion or are an abortion doctor or other care provider, come to Seattle. If you can make it here, the warrant for your arrest will not go away, but police in Seattle will be instructed not to act on that warrant.

“I urge Councilmembers and the Mayor to support this urgently needed protection against draconian anti-abortion laws, and to fully fund access to abortion. And I urge the Governor and the State Legislature to do the same.”