Washington State Laws

Abortion

Every pregnant person in Washington has the legal right to a confidential abortion for any reason up to the point of fetal viability or to protect the life or health of the pregnant individual. Abortion is legal regardless of a pregnant person’s age, where they live, or citizenship. A physician (MD), osteopathic physician (DO), physician assistant (PA), advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP), or certified nurse midwife (CNM) trained in abortion care may provide an abortion. Washington law enforcement, agencies, and courts are prohibited from cooperating with out-of-state civil and criminal investigations or legal actions related to care provided in Washington. State-regulated health plans are required to cover abortion services and may not impose cost-sharing.

After-Pregnancy Coverage

People living in Washington who meet income requirements are eligible for Medicaid coverage for 12 months after the end of their pregnancy. Washingtonians enrolled during their pregnancy automatically receive this coverage, which includes dental, contraceptive, and behavioral health services.

Birth Defect Reporting

In August 2000, the Washington State Board of Health approved a revised list of congenital abnormalities notifiable by law to public health authorities.

Birth Certificates and Vital Records

The Department of Health issues certificates for births, deaths, stillbirths, and fetal deaths that occur in Washington.

Death Reporting

A complete report of death or fetal death (death after 20 weeks’ gestational age) must be filed with the local registrar in the local health jurisdiction where the death occurred.

Doula Coverage

In 2020, as part of the state budget, the Governor signed a law requiring that the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) reimburse maternity services provided by doulas. In March of 2022, the Governor signed a bill, HB 1881, which creates the framework for a voluntary doula certification process.

Donor Human Milk Banking

Washington Legislature passed E2SSB 5702 in 2022, requiring health plans and Medicaid to provide coverage for donor human milk and human milk derived products in hospitals. The bill also requires the Department of Health to develop minimum standards to ensure milk bank safety for human milk and human milk derived products.

Folic Acid Coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, all Health Insurance Marketplace plans and most other insurance plans cover folic acid pills for women who could get pregnant.

IUD Coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, all Health Insurance Marketplace plans and most other insurance plans cover contraception including intrauterine devices (IUDs) without a copayment or coinsurance.

Maternal Mortality Review

Law establishing the Maternal Mortality Review Panel to conduct review of deaths occurred during or within a year of the end of pregnancy.

Newborn Eye Prophylaxis

Health care providers are required to administer prophylaxis against ophthalmia neonatorum up to 2 hours after delivery. Documentation is required if refused by a parent or guardian.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Paid leave is available for most Washington workers when bonding with a new baby, recovering from birth, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or when a serious health condition prevents them from working.

Protections for Pregnant and Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding Workers

Employers are required to provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations such as more frequent or longer restroom breaks, allowing them to sit more frequently and not requiring them to lift objects heavier than 17 lbs. Pregnant employees may also have rights to other workplace accommodations like scheduling flexibility to accommodate prenatal care visits.

Employers are required to provide breastfeeding/chestfeeding employees a flexible schedule to pump, attend medical appointments, and have reasonable accommodations. Employers must provide a convenient private location to express milk that's not a bathroom and a space to safely store milk. They must provide these protected reasonable accommodations for 2 years after birth.

Safe Haven Law

A parent of a newborn (less than 72 hours old) who surrenders that newborn to a qualified person at an appropriate location, such as a staff member at an emergency department or a fire station, is protected by law and is not subject to criminal liability.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Outreach Campaign / Period of PURPLE Crying

A public information campaign to prevent baby shaking and associated injuries.

Stillbirth Prevention

DOH received funding (2023-2025) to share evidence-based materials and information with health care providers and the public to reduce stillbirth incidence.

Vitamin K Administration for Newborns

Birth centers are required to inform patients that vitamin K administration for newborns is available.