Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee Hearing
Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee Hearing, as seen on TVW

Edi­tor’s Note: The fol­low­ing are the pre­pared remarks of NPI’s founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor in sup­port of Sen­ate Joint Res­o­lu­tion 8202, a pro­posed con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment which declares that “the state shall not deny or inter­fere with an indi­vid­u­al’s repro­duc­tive free­dom deci­sions.” The res­o­lu­tion, which would need a two-thirds vote of the Leg­is­la­ture to pass, was giv­en a pub­lic hear­ing in the Sen­ate Com­mit­tee on Health & Long Term Care today.

Good morn­ing. For the record, my name is Andrew Vil­leneuve and I’m the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute. NPI is pleased to be here today in strong sup­port of this pro­posed con­sti­tu­tion­al amendment.

Gov­er­nor Inslee men­tioned as this hear­ing began that he firm­ly believes that our Con­sti­tu­tion should be amend­ed to enshrine repro­duc­tive auton­o­my in our state’s con­sti­tu­tion. NPI’s research shows that Wash­ing­to­ni­ans agree. Emphatically.

Last June, short­ly before the Dobbs deci­sion was offi­cial­ly pub­lished, we asked the fol­low­ing ques­tion of a large rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of statewide vot­ers:

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?

A total of 63% said they sup­port a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment, with 57% of the total say­ing they strong­ly sup­port­ed one. Just 28% were opposed — 21% strong­ly, 7% some­what. 8% were not sure. 1,039 like­ly vot­ers were inter­viewed as part of this sur­vey from June 1st-2nd, 2022.

This sur­vey was one of sev­er­al that NPI com­mis­sioned in 2022 that accu­rate­ly fore­shad­owed the sub­se­quent midterm results, includ­ing Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray’s com­fort­able vic­to­ry over chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley — an elec­tion that some believed would be very close, but which our polling con­sis­tent­ly showed wasn’t.

It is rare, espe­cial­ly on a con­tentious issue with strong­ly held views on mul­ti­ple sides, for more than fifty per­cent in a statewide sam­ple to say they strong­ly sup­port a pro­posed pol­i­cy direc­tion, espe­cial­ly some­thing as sig­nif­i­cant as a pro­posed change to our plan of government.

Yet that is what we see here. A major­i­ty of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans fierce­ly believe in repro­duc­tive free­dom — it’s real­ly, real­ly impor­tant to them.

This sup­port extends across all regions of the state.

East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton favors a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment. The Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Wash­ing­ton favor one. North Puget Sound favors one. The South Sound favors one. King Coun­ty favors one.

Strik­ing­ly, there’s even more sup­port and less oppo­si­tion for amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion to pro­tect repro­duc­tive rights than for keep­ing Roe v. Wade. 62% of vot­ers sur­veyed favored keep­ing Roe in this same sur­vey, while 31% were opposed. Net sup­port for this con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment is 4% higher.

That sug­gests there are a few folks not sup­port­ive of Roe who nev­er­the­less join the major­i­ty of their fel­low cit­i­zens in believ­ing that our state should exer­cise its author­i­ty to explic­it­ly rec­og­nize a right in our state con­sti­tu­tion that adds to the rights already explic­it­ly rec­og­nized in our fed­er­al and state constitutions.

The peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton should be giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vote on this impor­tant ques­tion. We urge you to move this pro­posed amend­ment for­ward for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion in the leg­isla­tive process.

Hap­py to field any ques­tions. Thank you.

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