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King County sheriff won’t cooperate with out-of-state abortion probes

King County Executive Dow Constantine speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at the Lumen Field Events Center in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press
FILE - King County Executive Dow Constantine speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at the Lumen Field Events Center in Seattle.

SEATTLE (AP) — The executive in the county surrounding Seattle said Tuesday its sheriff’s office and other executive branch departments will not cooperate with out-of-state prosecutions of abortion providers or patients.

King County Executive Dow Constantine’s executive order signed Tuesday follows a similar one from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, The Seattle Times reported.

Inslee last week signed a directive prohibiting the Washington State Patrol from cooperating with out-of-state abortion investigations or prosecutions.

Inslee, in signing his directive, said he didn’t have jurisdiction over local law enforcement agencies. Now the state’s largest county has barred its law enforcement from aiding other states’ abortion investigations.

Constantine's order cites a “moral and policy imperative not to assist states and other outside organizations and individuals seeking to infringe the rights of persons who obtain health care in King County.”

The order bars sheriff’s deputies and staff from making arrests, serving warrants and subpoenas or helping in extradition on any person who has sought or provided reproductive health care that is legal in Washington.

It also bans the county jail system from accepting bookings for abortion-related out-of-state prosecutions and it bars the county health department from providing information related to prosecutions or sanctions related to abortion.

Abortion providers in Washington are already seeing an influx of people from other states that have banned or are soon to ban abortion, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

In Idaho, a law slated to go into effect soon would ban most abortions. Health-care providers would face felony charges punishable by up to five years in prison for violations. A regional Planned Parenthood organization is suing the state over it.

Idaho's ban could send more than 1,600 Idaho women annually to clinics in Washington and Oregon.

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