Washington Early-term Abortion, Referendum 20 (1970)
in Washington State
|Initiatives to the People|
|Initiatives to the Legislature|
|Statutes referred by Legislature|
|Political topics on the ballot|
|Laws • History • Constitution|
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.
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.
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."
Abortion on the Washington ballot
- See also: Abortion on the ballot
- Washington Abortion Rights, Initiative 120 (1991)
- Washington Late-term Abortion, Initiative 694 (1998)
- Washington No Public Funding of Abortions, Initiative 471 (1984)
- List of Washington State Referred Bills
- 1970 ballot measure election results
- Abortion reform in Washington State