Rally after the leaked Supreme Court opinion
Sign from a huge crowd at the Supreme Court the night after the release of Alito's draft majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade (Photo: Victoria Pickering, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

Last week, the right wing con­trolled Alito/Roberts Court gut­ted almost fifty years of prece­dent and stripped away a fed­er­al­ly-rec­og­nized right to repro­duc­tive free­dom and auton­o­my when it over­turned Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jack­son Wom­en’s Health Orga­ni­za­tion, No. 19–1392.

It’s eas­i­ly one of the worst Supreme Court deci­sions ever, and it will exac­er­bate the already alarm­ing prob­lem of inequity in access to repro­duc­tive healthcare.

But even in states where abor­tion care remains legal to obtain — like Wash­ing­ton — the specter of fur­ther assaults on repro­duc­tive free­dom remains.

Repub­li­cans like Mike Pence want a nation­al abor­tion ban and they will like­ly be in a posi­tion to get one if Repub­li­cans regain a tri­fec­ta at the fed­er­al lev­el (there are very few pro-lib­er­ty Repub­li­cans left in either the House or the Senate).

Wash­ing­ton State has vot­er-approved laws on the books con­cern­ing access to repro­duc­tive care which have with­stood attacks from the right wing for decades.

How­ev­er, Wash­ing­to­ni­ans would unques­tion­ably be bet­ter pro­tect­ed from the threat of a nation­al abor­tion ban and oth­er bad exter­nal leg­is­la­tion if our state Con­sti­tu­tion were amend­ed to explic­it­ly pro­tect repro­duc­tive freedom.

Antic­i­pat­ing that the Dobbs deci­sion was com­ing, we decid­ed at the begin­ning of this month to ask vot­ers about their views on this subject.

We found 63% of like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers inter­viewed June 1st-2nd, 2022 sup­port­ive of a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment to defend repro­duc­tive free­dom, with only 28% opposed. 8% said they were not sure.

Remark­ably, 57% said they were strong­ly sup­port­ive, with anoth­er 6% some­what sup­port­ive. A mere 21% were strong­ly opposed, with 7% some­what opposed.

Here’s the com­plete ques­tion we asked and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose, or strong­ly oppose amend­ing the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion to pro­tect Wash­ing­to­ni­ans’ free­dom to obtain repro­duc­tive health­care, includ­ing abor­tion care?


  • Sup­port: 63% 
    • Strong­ly: 57%
    • Some­what: 6%
  • Oppose: 28%
    • Some­what: 7%
    • Strong­ly: 21%
  • Not sure: 8%

Our sur­vey of 1,039 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, June 1st through Thurs­day, June 2nd, 2022.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

85% of respon­dents fell into one of the “strong­ly” camps, demon­strat­ing that peo­ple have firm posi­tions on this issue. Note that more than twice as many peo­ple are strong­ly sup­port­ive of the idea than strong­ly opposed.

This find­ing rein­forces that Wash­ing­ton is a state where peo­ple tru­ly val­ue and cher­ish repro­duc­tive rights. They are part of a val­ues sys­tem here that tran­scends par­ty and even ide­ol­o­gy. That much is evi­dent from the crosstabs.

We found sup­port for a pro­posed con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments in all regions, includ­ing East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, where there is major­i­ty support.

Near­ly all Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers want an amend­ment (88%), but so do a major­i­ty of inde­pen­dent vot­ers (56%). Even Repub­li­can sup­port for this idea is in the dou­ble dig­its (23%), which is sig­nif­i­cant con­sid­er­ing how far to the right the Repub­li­can Par­ty has shift­ed in recent years, with the Dan Evans wing going almost extinct.

Con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments require a two-thirds vote of both cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture in Wash­ing­ton to be referred to the peo­ple for a pub­lic vote.

It is not pos­si­ble to pro­pose a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment by peti­tion here like it is in oth­er states. That is by design — the founders want­ed to pro­tect both major­i­ty rule and minor­i­ty rights, so they wrote a Con­sti­tu­tion that explic­it­ly requires major­i­ty votes to pass bills (no more, no less) but minor­i­ty con­sent to change the plan of gov­ern­ment. For every state rep­re­sen­ta­tive or sen­a­tor who is opposed to a pro­posed change, there must be two who are for it, or it does­n’t advance.

Democ­rats cur­rent­ly have fifty-sev­en votes in the state House and twen­ty-eight votes in the Sen­ate, out of nine­ty-eight and forty-nine, respectively.

Six­ty-six votes are required in the House to pass an amend­ment, and thir­ty-three votes are need­ed in the Sen­ate. So, to get an amend­ment before the peo­ple, if vot­ers did not change the bal­ance of pow­er this autumn, Democ­rats would need nine Repub­li­can votes in the House and five in the Sen­ate, which they prob­a­bly would­n’t get, since the pro-repro­duc­tive rights fac­tion of the Repub­li­can Par­ty is total­ly unrep­re­sent­ed in the House and Sen­ate Repub­li­can caucuses.

Regard­less of how the 2022 midterms turn out, this idea should be brought forth in the 2023 ses­sion for a hear­ing and a vote, because threats to repro­duc­tive free­dom aren’t going away, and Wash­ing­to­ni­ans deserve to know from their next Leg­is­la­ture where their elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives stand.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts