All organizations reflect the guiding ideals of their top leaders. The Washington State Republican Party “Establishment” is the “top” of the Washington State Republican Party and the Party has been guided by, essentially, the same group of people since the 1960s. Despite its grassroots being profoundly influenced in the conservative direction by Presidential politics from the national level, the Washington State Republican establishment at the state level has been most influenced by the philosophy and adherents of a single organization (as they are more than happy to tell you) founded in 1964 to turn the Party away from Goldwater conservatism. This is about their top leadership, from the outset.
Excerpts below from Abortion Reform in Washington State, by Cassandra Tate (February 26, 2003) are taken from HistoryLink.org, a Marxist Washington State History project (see: Walt Crowley: “Journalist,” “Historian,” Democrat, Communist, dead at 60).
Women as well as doctors played a prominent role in the movement to decriminalize abortion in Washington in the late 1960s. However, the impetus and initial direction came from medical providers, seeking simply to enlarge the legal space in which physicians could perform abortions. Eventually, feminists recast the debate to emphasize women’s rights to control their own bodies; but in the early years, the focus was on the rights of doctors to practice medicine without interference. “I guess it would be fair to say we were less concerned about women’s rights than women’s health,” said Lee Minto, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Seattle-King County from 1967 until 1993 (Minto Interview).
The Study Group
Minto was among the first of a group of people to join what became the Citizens’ Abortion Study Group, which grew out of [Seattle psychologist Samuel] Goldenberg’s discussions with his colleagues about “the problem of abortion.” The group met regularly for more than a year, exploring the moral, ethical, and political issues involved in a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
Among the early members were:
- Dr. Donald McIntyre, a Seattle obstetrician and gynecologist;
- Dr. Ronald J. Pion, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington;
- Seattle attorney Palmer Smith;
- Dr. Glenn T. Strand, a psychiatrist who shared office space with Goldenberg;
- the Rev. Everett J. Jensen, general secretary of the State Council of Churches;
- Marilyn Ward of Seattle, a liberal Republican and volunteer lobbyist for welfare reform and children’s issues;
- Republican State Senator Joel Pritchard of Seattle.
Shortly thereafter, the group changed its name, to Washington Citizens for Abortion Reform (WCAR).
Legislation drafted by Washington Citizens for Abortion Reform was introduced in both the House and Senate during the 1969 legislative session, sponsored by William Chatalas, a Seattle Democrat, in the House and by Pritchard in the Senate. The proposed reforms were endorsed by dozens of organizations, from the Washington State Medical Association to the Washington Citizens’ Committee on Crime to the Council of Planning Affiliates, which represented 180 public and private groups concerned with health and welfare. It also had the support of Governor Dan Evans, a liberal Republican.
Nevertheless, House Bill 312 died in the Health and Welfare Committee and Senate Bill 282 remained bottled up in the Senate Rules Committee, which refused to schedule a vote on it. During a stormy hearing, dominated by a delegation of women from Seattle’s Central Area, members of the Rules Committee were heckled as they tried to justify their inaction. Senator William S. Day, a Democrat from Spokane, said he was against the bill because he felt that women didn’t have the right to make such a decision.
Supporters of reform returned the next year, during a special session of the Legislature, with a similar bill, introduced in the Senate by Pritchard. At the insistence of members of the Judiciary Committee, the bill was amended to stipulate that women seeking abortions be residents of the state for at least 90 days and have the consent of their husbands, if they were married and living with their husbands, or the consent of their legal guardians, if they were under 18. The original bill had used the traditional but imprecise concept of “quickening” to define legal abortions. As amended, it permitted abortions “within the four lunar months after conception upon a woman not quick with child.” The measure was approved by the Legislature and presented to the voters for ratification as Referendum 20 (Journal of the Senate; Engrossed Senate Bill No. 68).
We wanted a clean bill that would give the woman total rights to make a choice,” said Marilyn Ward, chief lobbyist for Washington Citizens for Abortion Reform, “…but one of the sponsors — I guess it was Joel — said you’re going to have to agree to the husband’s signature, to the residency requirement, to the limitations of where and when you could do the procedure. I agreed, and I got raked over the coals…. I said, are you going to lose on principle or win on compromise?” (Ward Interview).
ON THE PASSAGE OF REFERENDUM 20 . . .
“So our group of people came together in Seattle to try to come up with what we thought was the best way to change the law in Washington state. We went about it in a very methodical way, looking at all the laws around the United States and Europe. We met every two weeks and then later every week. The person who did most of the drafting of the law that finally we came up with was a local attorney named Palmer Smith. By that time we had added a couple of senators from the state legislature to the committee. One of them was Joel Pritchard. He became the primary sponsor of the referendum.”
“But when the vote was taken, we had more men vote for it than women.” “Dan Evans [then governor] was a great help to us, and Joel Pritchard [then a state senator, from Seattle] and Slade Gorton [then attorney general]. The most powerful people supporting it in Olympia were Republicans.”
The “Cascade Conference” is the annual convention of “Mainstream Republicans of Washington.” The above photo was taken from their site.
And from Feminist Women’s Health Center,
Camille Matern, November 1996
The Supreme Court’s decision in a 1989 case, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services revitalized the antiabortion cause. That decision upheld the rights of states to restrict abortion in several ways. The abortion debate now moved to the state legislatures, not the federal government. As the antiabortion activists were organizing around Robertson and the Christian Coalition, pro-choice organizations were working to mobilize their forces on the other side, to protect choice in Washington. The appointment of several conservative justices to the Supreme Court during the Reagan and Bush years ignited fears in pro-choice organizations that Roe v. Wade could be completely overturned. These organizations banded together to become Taxpayers for Choice and later Pro-Choice Washington, and created and supported Initiative 120, the Reproductive Privacy Act, to codify Roe v. Wade into state law. This was not a strictly grassroots effort. Many elected officials at the time, cochaired the effort, including Booth Gardner (then governor, a Democratic) and Joel Pritchard (then lt. governor, a Republican). As an indication of how political abortion had become, there were many diverse groups on both sides of the Initiative 120 debate. Pro-Choice Washington was made up of many organizations, including: American Association of University Women, ACLU, Asian Pacific Women’s Caucus, League of Women Voters, NARAL, NOW, National Political Congress of Black Women, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Washington, Planned Parenthood of Seattle-King County, Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, Washington Citizens for Abortion Choice, Washington State Political Caucus, Washington Women United and the Northwest Women’s Law Center. Groups that opposed 120 included: Human Life, Washington United, Washington State Catholic Conference, Christian Action Council of King County, Western Washington American Family Association. Although the legislation only affected Washington state, the Initiative received national support. Only 150,001 signatures were required to put the measure before the Legislature, but the initiative went to the Legislature with more than 242,000 signatures, the most ever gathered for an initiative in the state’s history at that time. Since the Legislature chose not to pass the initiative, it was presented to the voters on the November ballot. Surprisingly, it only passed by a very narrow margin, less than half of a percent.
Although there are many moderate Republicans who believe in and support choice, they have been forced to accept the platform. To show unity and solidarity within the party, they are quiet about how they differ on this issue. Moderate Republicans are in an extremely difficult position because their views differ with that of the far right and the Republican platform and they are not happy about it. One indication of the rift was the creation of an organization called the Washington Republican Coalition for Choice, which kicked off its effort to help like minded GOP candidates run for office in February 1992. They were offering help to pro-choice GOP candidates while not targeting the anti-choice candidates. Another example of this split was the resignation of Fiona Buzzard in 1994 as Chairperson of the Thurston County Republican Party after calling Rep. Linda Smith “anti-woman” and a radical right-winger for her views on abortion and her hard line stance with the religious right.
The divisiveness and passion surrounding the abortion issue doesn’t just kill legislation directly about abortion. It can be blamed for killing much needed legislation in 1991 that would have built six teen centers that would have provided mental-health counseling, health screening and referrals to doctors, job training and treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.
by Cassandra Tate.
Marilyn Ward (b. 1929), a volunteer lobbyist for a wide range of liberal social issues in the 1960s and 1970s, was an early member of the Citizens’ Abortion Study Group, later renamed Washington Citizens for Abortion Reform. In this interview, Ward describes her involvement with the group and with the campaign for Referendum 20, which liberalized Washington’s abortion law after it was approved by the voters in 1970. This interview of Marilyn Ward was done by Cassandra Tate in Seattle on August 26, 2000.
“In the late 1960s, I was a Dan Evans Republican and a citizen lobbyist in Olympia, working on children’s issues and welfare reform, when the Citizens’ Abortion Study Group got in touch with me [Evans, a liberal Republican, served three terms as governor of Washington, 1965-1977]. I was on the board of Planned Parenthood of Seattle-King County. [Planned Parenthood director] Lee Minto had helped put together a study group that included a couple of Jesuit priests, some doctors, a psychologist, the head of the Council of Churches, a lawyer, and a few other Planned Parenthood members. It was a very diverse group, except that most were Democrats; I think they asked me to get involved because they wanted a Republican.
“Dr. Samuel Goldenberg, the psychologist, was chairman. Marilyn Watson from Planned Parenthood’s board; Rev. [Everett J.] Jensen, chairman of the Council of Churches; Dr. Donald McIntyre, an ob/gyn; and Dr. Bill [William E.] Watts, an internist [then president of the Washington State Medical Association]; Palmer Smith, a lawyer; Joel Pritchard, at that time a Washington state senator, and of course Lee Minto were the members of this group. Palmer drafted the bill that went to the Legislature in 1969.
“We met for a couple of years before we got the bill ready. We took each person involved in the termination of a pregnancy and we spent one study period looking at all aspects of that person’s involvement, starting with the mother, the father, the grandparents and siblings and going on down the line to the doctors and nurses, religious groups and society as a whole. It was a very interesting process. At that time there were liberalized abortion laws in England and Japan and California and a few other states. They all imposed certain caveats. Palmer took the laws and laid them out on a long piece of paper so we could see how they were the same and how they differed. The final conclusion was that we wanted a clean bill that would give the woman total rights to make a choice. We believed, in the final analysis, that this was her decision to make.
Liberal Republicans at the Forefront
“My husband and I lived in Olympia at that time so I became the point person for our lobbying efforts. I had a desk in Senator Joel Pritchard’s office; he was the prime sponsor of our bill.
“We had hoped to have it passed by Legislature. Pritchard was a highly respected liberal Republican. Dan Evans as governor was the titular head of the party. The Republican party was much more liberal than the Democrats then in power. We worked very hard to get the bill passed by the legislative leaders.
“During the study period, through Bill Watts and Don McIntyre’s help, we realized we could never get it through the Legislature without help from the Washington State Medical Society. It took about a year, as the approval process involved going through all the appropriate committees in the Medical Society. Finally the Medical Society voted to support the bill. That was a critically important step.
“The Council of Churches also provided its support, as did the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters, and of course Planned Parenthood. We decided to keep this as mainstream as possible and avoid the rhetoric we saw in [the abortion reform campaign in] New York, where people were getting pretty hysterical. Sam Goldenberg’s leadership, as the chair for the committee, also was very important, as during that time a well respected man leading this effort was probably going to be more powerful than having a woman chair. We wouldn’t let people like NOW or Radical Women testify in favor of the bill. We said look, we want this to pass; we’re dealing with very conservative middle aged men. We knew if we were going to win, we were going to have work hard to keep this thing calm and cool and professional.
“In those days you could orchestrate your lobbying efforts. We organized the doctors around the state, trying to have every single legislator’s doctor — preferably their personal physicians, or if not, a doctor from their district — talk to them about it. It was a major effort.
The Role of Joel Pritchard
“We tried to get it through the Legislature in 1969 but we lost. We just did not have the votes in the Senate. Joel Pritchard realized we did not have the votes and the only way we would have any possibility of success was to go the referendum route. After 1969, we knew pretty much that would be the case, so we came in with a referendum proposal the next year.
“What Joel did — and this is where his genius was so important — he convinced a lot of people who were opposed to abortion to vote to get it on the floor. We needed a two-thirds vote to get it out of the Rules Committee. That was the key vote, to get it out of the Rules Committee and onto the floor. It passed by one vote. To me that was the victory. From then on, we knew we had the votes to put a referendum before the people.
“We had wanted a clean bill but one of the sponsors — I guess it was Joel — said, You’re going to have to agree to the husband’s signature, to the residency requirement, to the limitations on where and when you could do the procedure. I agreed, and I got raked over the coals by NARAL [National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws] and then by our own side. My response was, Are you going to lose on Reprinciple or win on compromise?
“It wasn’t a clean bill — it wasn’t a perfect bill — but it still gave women a safe recourse for terminating a pregnancy.”
Since 1985, for a quarter century+, throughout the entire post-Reagan era, Washington State has held 14 statewide elections. The major Statewide offices (Governor and the two U.S. Senate seats) have been contested 17 times. Republicans have had a top-two finalist for those (3) major offices all 17 times. Twelve of those Republican contestants have been “Mainstream Republicans of Washington” affiliated Establishment “moderates.” In every instance, when they are challenged by a conservative their argument is that the “moderate” is “the one who can win.”
The Establishment candidates won only two out of twelve races (once as an incumbent) for a winning percentage of 12%.
They lose 88% of the time.