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Spokane City Council to consider barring police from participating in abortion investigations

Nick Bramhall via flickr

The Spokane City Council is preparing to bar city employees from participating in out of state abortion investigations, or investigating the outcome of a pregnancy.

Some fear city council action may not be enough to protect both patients and abortion providers.

As many states – including Idaho – move to outlaw abortions, Spokane City Council leaders are preparing to preserve access.

They plan to forbid police officers, as well as other city employees, from participating in out-of-state abortion investigations.

Paul Dillon, spokesman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, said he’s thankful for the city council’s efforts, but said it may not be enough.

“You can pass the greatest policy,” he said, “but implementation, and in this case, enforcement is another battle that always lies ahead, especially with the city of Spokane.”

Dillon is in part referring to an ordinance the city council passed barring protesters from disrupting patient care with extremely loud noise. Planned Parenthood repeatedly documented violations of the code, but the noise did not stop until a judge intervened in response to a Planned Parenthood lawsuit.

He said law enforcement in Spokane have also already attempted to investigate a pregnancy outcome. Last year, a Spokane Police Officer filed a warrant to investigate a woman who miscarried in a hotel room.

Dillon said Mayor Nadine Woodward needs to publicly support the city council's proposed policy.

In a statement Friday, Woodward said the resolution was a state and federal matter, not a city issue.

If Spokane City Council approves the resolution, they would join several local governments, as well as the state in vowing to not use public resources to investigate pregnancy outcomes. The City of Boise has passed a similar ordinance, and Governor Jay Inslee has directed the Washington State Patrol not to assist in pregnancy and abortion investigations.

The city council will vote on the resolution during their 6 p.m. July 25 council meeting.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.