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Lawless West Coast States Create 'Safe Haven' for Out-of-State Abortion Seekers, Not Their Own Residents

Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool, File

Democratic leadership in crime-ridden California, Oregon, and Washington have pledged to make West Coast states "a safe haven" for out-of-state abortion seekers and abortionists, while they fail to take care of their own law-abiding residents. Urban plagues like violent crime and rampant substance abuse have long consumed the deep-blue strongholds whose unpopular Democrat governors continue to prioritize progressive pandering over addressing grave issues in their own backyards that directly affect their exceedingly fed-up constituents.


Pro-Abortion Activism

The multi-state commitment to "reproductive freedom" and "standing united on protecting abortion access" was deliberately issued on the day of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. A dozen of Republican-led states had enacted trigger laws in the event Roe got struck down that immediately, or pending action, would take effect and enforce certain abortion restrictions, thereby criminalizing the act with some exceptions and costing abortion providers thousands of dollars via fines, jail time, and their medical license.

"We will not stand on the sidelines as these attacks mount," the trio of governors vowed, assuring the so-called "West Coast offense" will work against judicial and local law enforcement cooperation with investigations, inquiries, and arrests from across state lines regarding the aiding and abetting of abortions outlawed in other jurisdictions that are otherwise legal in the coastal states. They'll also refuse "non-fugitive extradition of individuals for criminal prosecution" related to alleged abortion offenses and charge their state judiciaries with not issuing subpoenas or summons in cases where prosecution is pending—or where a grand jury investigation has commenced or is about to commence—for a civil or criminal violation of abortion law from another state.

The governors also committed to defending licensed medical professionals who provide abortions by pursuing legislative and executive actions to protect those abortionists from licensing boards and liability insurers.

Using coded messaging, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown claimed that "abortion is health care" and that "no matter who you are or where you come from, Oregon doesn't turn away anyone seeking health care," meaning The Beaver State is a refuge for any woman who wants to abort her own child. In 2017, Brown signed Oregon's Reproductive Health Equity Act, a first-of-its-kind bill that codified "the right to an abortion" into state law. In mid-March, when neighboring Idaho became the first state to pass a six-week abortion ban based on the Texas Heartbeat Bill, Oregon Democrats quietly established the Reproductive Health Equity Fund, approving a hefty $15 million investment in the 2022 legislative session's final budget bill to expand the state's abortion-provider network capacity as well as offer practical support like travel and lodging for women wanting abortions.

Rather than parroting a platitude, recall-dodging California. Gov. Gavin Newsom instead used alarmist language when he alleged that the Supreme Court and Republican-led states want to "turn back the clock" to a time in America when "women were not treated as equal citizens under the law," calling the landmark Dobbs ruling "another devastating step toward erasing the rights and liberties Americans have fought for on battlefields, in courthouses and in capitols." Newsom declared: "This is not the America we know – and it's not the California way." One might ask, What is the California way? According to Newsom, it's proposing a $125 million Reproductive Health Package to expand abortion access and prepare for the influx of women from other states seeking abortions. How else do Californians do it? The state Legislature introduced a constitutional amendment to enshrine "the right to abortion" in the California constitution. Newsom also signed legislation in March eliminating out-of-pocket costs for abortion services and, in November, the liberal governor signed into law a legislative package to strengthen access, safeguard abortion recipients, and protect abortion providers.


A day after Roe fell, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee held a press conference with Democratic legislators at the state Capitol, promising to make The Evergreen State "a sanctuary" and discussing measures to strengthen abortion access statewide, including pressing for a constitutional amendment that solidifies "the right of choice" in Washington, issuing an executive order that directs the Washington state Patrol to refuse cooperation with investigatory requests related to abortion sent from agencies in states that don't allow abortion, and earmarking $1 million in emergency funds for the state's abortion clinics. In 2018, Inslee signed the Reproductive Parity Act that requires all health plans that include maternity care services to cover abortion. Last year, he signed the Protecting Pregnancy Act that allows doctors who practice in Catholic-run hospitals to bypass ethical-religious directives and provide abortion when a woman's life is in danger. Earlier this year, Inslee signed the Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act that prohibits the state from taking "Texas-style" legal action against anyone seeking to end her pregnancy or for assisting a pregnant woman in aborting her baby.


The three governors have all used their positions as the elected executive heads of state to pen left-wing activism into state legislation to help non-residents circumvent criminal penalties in their home states. Where is this mobilizing energy when it comes to crime at home? There's political inertia at the state level.

But in Brown's case, there's a particular soft-on-crime state law that's harmful to Oregon communities.

Senate Bill 48 became law on July 1, reforming Oregon's pretrial detention system by "reducing the importance of bail," as described by Brown at the adjournment of the 2021 legislative session. Its purpose is to "promote equitable justice practices," according to the Oregon Judicial Department. Multiple law enforcement agencies in counties across the state have recently aired grievances about the bill's impact on public safety in Oregon.

Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley voiced concern about S.B. 48, which is supposedly designed to ensure defendants are held in custody per the severity level of the crime and criminal history—not based on their ability to pay bail. "I am concerned about the potential negative implication to the safety of our communities. SB 48 essentially removes local control and requires the Sheriff’s Office to immediately release people who we would have previously housed in jail until trial," Pixley told The Chief news outlet covering northern Columbia County. 

In June, the Klamath County Sheriff's Office released a statement following Brown's signing of the bill, arguing that S.B. 48 will "have the effect of requiring the release of a significant number of criminal suspects from police custody, without bail, back into the community." Anyone arrested for committing a property crime such as theft, burglary, car theft, trespass, or a non-domestic violence assault, arson, and unlawful purchase of a firearm "will not be able to be kept in jail any longer than it takes to process them," the sheriff's office contended.


The office also cited a scenario where a suspect with a mental illness who is detained for lower-level offenses will be released, missing the opportunity for mental health services to intervene and prevent future criminal activity. "As part of the nationwide movement for police / bail reform, Oregon has taken a dangerous step that requires law enforcement to arrest, book, and then immediately release suspects that have committed some misdemeanor and felony crimes," the press statement continued. The county's Sheriff Chris Kaber observed: "This decision by progressive government officials, who do not understand the complexity of the criminal justice system, does not help our rural community. It is becoming easier each day to be a criminal in our state."

In one jarring release case, Brown showed mercy to a convicted murderer and was harshly lambasted by state lawmakers as well as local prosecutors over her controversial decision to free Oregon killer Kyle Hedquist.

The victim's family was unaware that their daughter's "cold-blooded" slayer was being released until KOIN 6 News contacted them for their reaction. The murdered teen's mother said she wasn't even informed by the state of Brown's decision nor did the governor's office bother reaching out: "I am upset. I wasn't even told."

Brown had decided to commute the convict's sentence of life without the possibility of parole, which was handed down three decades ago for the fatal "execution-style" shooting of the teenager in the back of her head because Hedquist feared the victim would tell police about the burglaries he had committed. "We are a nation of second chances—and that means giving another chance even to Oregonians who have committed crimes that are incredibly hard to forgive," Brown wrote in an April press release, marking "Second Chance Month."

Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson, whose county includes Salem where Hedquist was let out on the streets, issued a public safety notice raising "significant safety concerns surrounding the sudden and ill-planned governor's commutation." Clarkson added that the release decision wasn't made with the appropriate protocol or the proper risk assessment and safety measures in place, blaming Brown for undoing the consequences of criminal actions "with one swipe of one pen" and placing the average citizen "at risk."

Brown "just made [law enforcement personnel's] jobs harder," Marion County commissioners stated. Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Brown granting clemency was "irresponsible" while Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton called it "a staggering departure from common sense, and from basic public safety decision-making." What it says to perpetrators is "you've got a friend in the Governor's office. What it says to the rest of us is, there's a broken public safety system and this is not working," Barton remarked.

Since taking office in 2015, Brown has granted 1,148 sentence commutations—963 of which to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in prisons. Brown also oversaw 63 pardons. (Commutations reduce prison terms, while pardons forgive defendants of crimes.) A pair of district attorneys and the families of three murder victims have since filed a lawsuit against Brown, alleging the governor has violated constitutional clemency requirements.


Serving as governor since 2015, Brown, who cannot seek reelection in 2022 because of term limits, is the least popular governor in the nation, according to a Morning Consult poll. During her long tenure, Oregon under Brown has seen increasing rates of homelessness and crime, which along with poor government leadership, constitute the top three issues for Oregon voters, spring Oregon Public Broadcasting polling demonstrated.

South of Oregon, two-thirds of registered voters in California believe crime has risen in their neighborhoods, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll. Over half of voters surveyed feel that Newsom's job performance is poor on crime and public safety, which is up 16 percentage points from 2020.

Proposition 47, the Newsom-backed ballot measure from 2014, reclassified felony drug and theft offenses as misdemeanors and raised the amount from $400 to $950 for which theft can be prosecuted as a felony. There was a disconcerting rise in California's property crime numbers last year, driven by car break-ins (a 21% jump) and auto thefts (a 10% spike), the Public Policy Institute of California reported. Politicians have pointed to Prop. 47 for the cause of the crime wave by painting a perception that committing crime has no consequences.

California's murder rate also climbed 30% in 2020 and the troubling increase continued the following year, when homicides in the state's major cities—Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco—were up by about 17%, according to preliminary data trends reviewed by the Public Policy Institute of California.

In late December, Newsom praised three state laws, including Prop. 47, which downgraded some felonies; Proposition 57, which reduced prison sentences; and Assembly Bill 109, which shifted inmates housed in state prisons to detainment in local jails. All passed under the reign of Newsom's predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown, whom Newsom served under as California's lieutenant governor. Newsom's administration expanded good-behavior credits permitted under Prop. 57, allowing an additional 76,000 prisoners to qualify for early release, though the Berkeley poll found that most voters want to see tougher-penalty changes to Prop. 47.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp asserted that the Brown-era laws had no discernible effect on reducing crime. Newsom "should be ashamed of himself," Smittcamp told FOX 25 News. "This is the environment that he created. And he's either ignorant of the statistics, or he's a liar." Shifting the blame, Newsom urged DAs to prosecute shoplifters, although he appointed Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, who's facing mounting recall efforts, to the DA post in San Francisco when he was mayor there.

Inslee, in office since 2013, has outpaced Brown's merciful track record, issuing a whopping 1,266 clemency orders, which include 422 that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic and 35 for marijuana convictions.

Riot-happy Seattle is no stranger to organized crime, but smaller, historically safer cities in Washington state have witnessed skyrocketing crime rates. Metropolitan areas in Pierce County, like the city of Tacoma where shooting deaths happen in broad daylight, have also seen an uptick in homicides, assaults, and vehicle thefts as cops face a public trust crisis and contend with sweeping defund-the-police policies in the state. DuPont has suffered a 47% increase in car prowls and break-ins from October 2020 to October of last year, according to KING 5 News. King County already had more incidents of gun violence in October 2021 than throughout all of 2020, the King County Prosecutor's Office reported. Compared to the four-year average, the number of shootings in 2021 at that point was up almost 50%, and the number of shooting victims was up 76%.


Drug Addiction

In early May, dozens of Oregon moms, who either have children struggling with addiction or have lost kids to overdoses, and other protestors rallied in the pouring rain on Mother's Day outside Brown's home, criticizing the state's lack of immediate action in providing addiction treatment since the passage of Measure 110 in 2020.

Measure 110 decriminalized the possession of small amounts of heroin—as well as other street drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, LSD, psilocybin, methadone, and oxycodone—hoping to route addicts to rehab and away from jail by treating substance abuse as a public health crisis instead of a criminal justice one.

A defendant found with illegal drugs receives a citation from Oregon police, similar to a traffic ticket, with the maximum fine of up to $100 waived if they're willing to call a statewide hotline in order to complete a health assessment screening for a substance abuse disorder. However, Lines for Life CEO Dwight Holton told Fox News that just over a hundred people have called the help hotline. Most of the callers just wanted verification of the assessment to void the ticket. According to The Lund Report, after one year, only 136 residents actually sought treatment, less than 1% of those helped by Measure 110. The Oregon Judicial Department reported that through the end of May, police wrote written 2,576 tickets for drug possession since Measure 110 was enacted. The vast majority of the tickets (75%) resulted in convictions because the offender never showed up in court. 

Oregon's treatment-oriented experiment, as part of the state's pioneering drug-decriminalization agenda, has been botched, state officials testified in June before the House Interim Committee on Behavioral Health. The measure promised to pour millions of dollars into community-based recovery services, but two years later, little of the nearly $300 million allocated has been spent as proposed amid Oregon's worsening drug crisis.

With about one in five adults addicted, Oregon has the second-highest rate of addiction in the country, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Oregon drug overdoses have more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, which were fueled by widespread abuse of fentanyl, an Oregon Health Authority analysis found last Thursday. Early data indicate that the pattern has persisted in 2022.

There's bureaucratic backlog in California, too. California has approximately $100 billion in surplus, but the state is skimping on fighting addiction. The three-year, $15 million pilot program called California Harm Reduction Initiative was not renewed in the draft of the state's $300 billion budget, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Defunding frontline organizations that combat drug abuse comes at a critical time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 10,000 people died of accidental overdoses in California last year alone.

Meanwhile, in 2021, Newsom had asked the federal government for permission to use tax dollars to fund a program through Medicaid that would pay drug addicts to stay sober. At the end of last month, the California Assembly passed a bill that would allow major cities to open "safe drug use sites," if approved by Newsom.


At the designated sites, addicts could inject illicit drugs under medical supervision, thanks to Senate Bill 5. San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles would be able to try out a six-year pilot program where such sites would offer drug addicts sterile hypodermic needles and syringes as well as staff trained to treat overdoses.

California's drug cartels have contributed to the addiction epidemic, using the state to take over small towns, set up shop, and distribute deadly drugs. It's not just local either. Cartels have capitalized on California's major highway systems and its proximity to the United States-Mexico border. What is believed to be one of the largest methamphetamine seizures in San Diego County just went down Friday when four men were charged with federal drug trafficking offenses following the capture of more than 5,000 pounds of methamphetamine discovered inside the U.S. carried by two trucks in National City, California, the U.S. Attorney's Office cited.

Washington state activists have called off a California-esque drug decriminalization effort, halting the push to qualify an initiative for November's general election ballot. "Signature gathering proved more challenging and prohibitively expensive than projected," Commit to Change WA told its supporters in a June email.

Polling conducted by Data for Progress indicated that 67% of Washington voters would have voted for Measure No. 1922 after reading the ballot language. If the proposed ballot initiative, I-1922, had become law, it would have eliminated the state's existing penalties around possession and use of illicit drugs. The proposal would also expunge past convictions for drug possession and use, removing any related blemish from criminal records. Washington's current prohibition on drug use—now a misdemeanor—is set to expire on July 1, 2023.

Washington's felony penalties against drug possession abruptly disappeared last February after the state Supreme Court invalidated the law as unconstitutional. Some law enforcement bodies announced they'll no longer arrest or pursue cases against suspects over possession of small amounts. Simple drug possession "is no longer an arrestable offense," the Seattle Police Department said in a public statement following the State v. Blake ruling. "Effective immediately, officers will no longer detain nor arrest individuals" merely for having drugs.

According to The Associated Press, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys sent a memo directing its members to immediately drop pending simple drug possession cases, obtain orders vacating convictions for past cases, and recall any arrest warrants issued accordingly. "No search warrants. No detentions upon suspicion of simple possession awaiting canine units, etc," an official wrote in an email to Seattle police officers, according to an excerpt posted by The Post Millennial reporter Katie Daviscourt

In response, the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs also sent guidance saying that "law enforcement officers are no longer authorized to conduct a criminal investigation, effect an arrest, seek a search warrant or take any other law enforcement action for simple possession of controlled substances."


Pacific County Prosecutor Ben Haslam told The Chinook Observer that the court ruling "has come as a shock to our office," noting they're preparing to request the immediate release of individuals being held in custody only for simple-possession cases, the office will have to quash all active warrants on pending possession cases, and moving forward, he expects they'll will be required to vacate charges for individuals previously convicted of possession. "I'm sure there will be many other ramifications as well," Haslam commented.

In accordance with the ruling, Inslee stated he's willing to commute up to 1,200 sentences for the remaining convicts who are serving Department of Corrections community supervision on drug possession convictions held invalid by the Washington state Supreme Court. Inslee's office said the governor is "prepared to issue unconditional commutations for eligible petitioner." Clemency also applies to obligations to pay legal fees.

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