January 22, 2003: Remarks of Gary Locke, Governor of WA

Thirty years ago this week, the United States Supreme Court made "the right to choose" the law of the land. The words "Roe v. Wade" have become synonymous with this right.

I am proud that our state has led the way in reproductive rights for women. I'm also proud that we've led the way in the broader struggle for equal rights for women. As early as 1854, the first territorial Legislature of Washington came within one vote of giving women the right to vote. In 1910, our Legislature did enfranchise women, a full 10 years ahead of the passage of the 20th Amendment.

Washington was the first state to legalize abortion through a vote of the people. That was in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade. And Washington citizens have reaffirmed the right to choose several times since Roe v. Wade.

We are a strongly pro-choice state. We have a long history of passing pro-choice legislation and pro-choice initiatives. We also have a strong track record of turning back anti-choice legislation and initiatives.

We are justifiably proud of this tradition. We know in this state that the right to reproductive choice is critical to women's rights. It is central to the concepts of equality and self-government. Democratic government begins with the right to govern our individual lives.

Roe v. Wade gave the highest degree of constitutional protection to this right to choose. At times, violence and the threat of violence have cast a shameful pall over this freedom. Such hateful crimes are an abomination to all Americans and a threat to all of our freedoms. We must always protect against and prosecute such crimes to the full extent of the law.

We must also be vigilant in protecting against the political erosion of the right to choose. We must always fight against insidious rules, regulations and legislation that seek to chip away at this right.

Thirty years ago, Roe v. Wade made a woman's right to choose one of America's fundamental freedoms. This week we commemorate that decision, and reaffirm our commitment to protect that fundamental freedom and all fundamental freedoms from compromise.


Gary Locke
Governor of Washington State


"We have laws in place that assure women's reproductive rights. We have a long history of passing pro-choice legislation and pro-choice initiatives. We must work hard to guarantee that these rights remain strong and intact."
-Governor Locke, January 22, 2003

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