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Rod Dembowski commends action by Attorney General Bob Ferguson Affirming Women’s Reproductive Health Care Rights

Summary

Councilmember will work to ensure compliance with I-120 in County Programs and at Health Facilities, including Harborview Hospital

Story

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, a member of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health, and Human Services Committee, announced his support for the Attorney General Opinion (“AGO”) 2013 No. 3, released this afternoon by Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

The AGO states that any public hospital district that chooses to provide or contract for maternity care benefits, services, or information, cannot refuse to provide the fundamental health care rights guaranteed to women under Initiative 120, including the right to choose or refuse birth control and the right to choose or refuse an abortion. While the AGO specifically addresses public hospital districts, the reasoning of the opinion applies equally to any subdivision of the state, including counties, given the definition of “state” in the statute, which specifically includes counties. RCW 9.02.170(6).

“As a strong supporter of women’s health care and reproductive rights, I commend Attorney General Bob Ferguson for the Attorney General’s Opinion released today,” said Councilmember Dembowski.

“Many in the community have raised concerns with me about the recent ‘strategic affiliation’ by UW Medicine with PeaceHealth, and the potential implications for reproductive health care services at Harborview” said Councilmember Dembowski. “While we have received assurances from UW Medicine that such services are not implicated by the ‘strategic affiliation’, I believe this opinion will help further protect women’s reproductive health care rights, including patients served by UW Medicine at King County’s Harborview Hospital. It will also ensure that patients receiving care in our clinics have access to the full range of reproductive health services. When the contract with UW Medicine to operate Harborview Hospital comes up for consideration next year, I will work to ensure that patients continue to receive access to the full continuum of family planning and women’s health care services at Harborview into the future.”

The full Attorney General’s Opinion can be found here.

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