Abortion bans are forcing more patients to Seattle. How funding from the Seattle City Council is supporting them

Abortion bans are forcing more patients to Seattle. How funding from the Seattle City Council is supporting them

It’s been just over a year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ruling people did not have a right to access abortion and allowing states to dramatically repress reproductive rights. In the wake of that decision, the Seattle City Council fought back. Today, the Council got a briefing from public health officials on the impact those efforts are having.  

What has happened in Washington since the Supreme Court revoked abortion rights? 

Washington State saw a 16.5 percent increase in monthly abortions between April 2022 and March 2023, according to the Society of Family Planning. That equates to around 290 additional procedures a month. Many of those are from patients traveling from out of state.  

That’s at least partially because, according to the Guttmacher Institute, Washington State is ranked as a “protective” state for reproductive rights. In comparison, neighboring Idaho is ranked as one of the “most restrictive.”  

A map from the Guttmacher Institute showing abortion access by state.

The impact of Seattle’s funding for reproductive care 

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the Seattle City Council worked quickly to protect reproductive rights and support people in Washington and across the nation trying to access reproductive healthcare. That included approving $1.75 million in funding for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund. King County also added $500,000 to the fund.  

Through a nine-month period, between June 2022 and March 2023, the Northwest Abortion Access Fund spent $819,382 of that money helping 757 people access reproductive healthcare. According to health officials:  

  • 72 percent of that funding paid for medical services while 28 percent funded travel and lodging 
  • 75 percent of the funding for medical services went to Seattle-based providers 
  • 45 percent of people helped by the funding were travelling to Washington State for abortion care from their homes in other states 
  • The number of Northwest Abortion Access Fund callers who had to travel outside of their state for care has almost doubled 

The Northwest Abortion Access fund anticipates that approximately $300,000 of the $2.25 million from Seattle and King County will be remain and be carried over into 2024.  

What the Seattle City Council is doing to protect access to abortion and other reproductive healthcare 

The Seattle City Council has passed seven key pieces of legislation to protect access to reproductive care since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. They include:  

  • Resolution 32054 supporting abortion rights and other reproductive rights, in opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization; and urging state and federal elected officials to codify abortion rights and other reproductive rights. (May 10, 2022)  
  • Council Bill 120375 establishing Seattle as a sanctuary city for those seeking abortion care and prevent the Seattle Police from pursuing out-of-state warrants related to abortions. (July 26, 2022) 
  • Council Bill 120366 appropriating $250,000 of city funds to fund expanded access to reproductive healthcare by making an investment in Northwest Abortion Access Fund (August 2, 2022) 
  • Council Bill 120376 creating a misdemeanor charge for people who encroach on individuals seeking abortions or gender affirming care (August 9, 2022) 
  • Council Bill 120374 adding people who have received or are seeking abortions as a protected class, ensuring their civil rights’ protections (August 9, 2022) 
  • Council Bill 120399 prohibiting false and misleading advertising by limited services pregnancy centers, a.k.a. crisis pregnancy centers (September 6, 2022)  
  • A Council Budget Amendment adding $1.25 million to the Human Services Department for abortion access (November 29, 2022) 

You can learn more about these Seattle City Council’s actions to protect abortion access in Seattle at this website.  

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