Washington Early-term Abortion, Referendum 20 (1970)

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A Washington Changes in Abortion Law ballot measure, or Referred Bill 20 was on the November 3, 1970 ballot in the State of Washington as a legislatively-referred state statute, where it was approved.

Referred Bill 20 legalized abortion in the early months of pregnancy. In 1909, the state legislature had enacted a bill (Chap. 249, Session Laws, 1909) that made it a crime "for anyone, including the prospective mother, to terminate any pregnancy unless necessary to save the life of the mother." Referred Bill 20 liberalized the 1909 restrictions, 3 years before the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion as a matter of federal law.[1]

The enactment of Referred Bill 20 represented the first time in the United States that abortion laws were liberalized through a vote of the people. 15 other states had liberalized their abortion laws by this time, but through legislative action, not a statewide popular vote.[1]

Election results

Referred Bill 20
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 599,959 56.49%
No462,17443.51%

Text of measure

The question asked on the ballot was, "An act permitting the termination of pregnancy when performed: (1) By or under the supervision of a licensed physician; (2) within four lunar months after conception upon a woman not quick with child who has resided in this state for at least ninety days prior to termination; (3) with the woman's consent and that of her husband, if she is residing with him, or if unmarried and under eighteen years of age, with her consent and that of her legal guardian; and providing that no objecting hospital, physician or other person shall be required to participate in a termination of pregnancy."

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Abortion on the Washington ballot

See also: Abortion on the ballot

References


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