Food & Drink

Seattle Magazine Cover 1969: Abortion Rights Fight

The state legislature in 1969 was embroiled in debate over a woman’s right to choose

By Rob Smith June 23, 2022


This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Seattle magazine.

Courtesy of Jade D’Addario, Special Collections, The Seattle Public Library

Back in 1970, almost three years prior to Roe v. Wade, Washington voters became the first in the country to vote to legalize abortion. This “Seattle” magazine cover, from 1969, reflects the debate raging across the state at the time.

According to Cassandra Tate on, 15 other states had “liberalized” abortion laws by that time, but Washington was the first to do so via popular vote. Referendum 20, which passed with more than 56% of the vote, still required the consent of a married woman’s husband or a girl’s parents if she was under the age of 18.

The legislation was introduced by Joel Pritchard, then a state senator (and one of the inventors of pickleball, as outlined in this issue) who later served as a state representative for 12 years before becoming lieutenant governor in 1989.

The referendum allowing voters to decide only narrowly passed the state Senate, 25-23. The House, however, overwhelmingly approved the measure, which voters approved on Nov. 3, 1970.

Follow Us

Seattle Lawyer's Long Abortion Rights Fight

Seattle Lawyer’s Long Abortion Rights Fight

Judith Lonnquist bailed out abortion doctors in the 1960s and has been fighting for women’s rights ever since. She has advice on how to take action now.

Judith Lonnquist is steadfast. She’s angry. Her tone is clipped and impatient. “It’s like 50 years of my life has been wasted,” she says. And yet, Lonnquist is hopeful.   Lonnquist, a prominent Seattle labor and employment attorney who specializes in sex discrimination and harassment, has been fighting for civil rights and women’s rights since the…

Editor’s Note: Forgotten Survivor

Editor’s Note: Forgotten Survivor

Emily Cantrell’s experience at the Vegas shooting turns into a journey to help others

At first, the crowd of more than 22,000 thought they were hearing firecrackers. Then the second round began, and many realized they were gunshots. In an instant, Emily Cantrell’s life changed forever. Fifty-nine people were killed and more than 700 wounded that night almost four years ago at an outdoor country music festival in Las…

Seattle Magazine Cover 1968: Tumultuous Times

Seattle Magazine Cover 1968: Tumultuous Times

This ‘Seattle’ magazine cover from October 1968 reflects the turbulence of the era

In early October 1968, a Seattle police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old Black boy after he threatened them with a rifle. According to David Wilma, writing on, the very next day two Seattle police officers were ambushed and wounded in retaliation. Welton Armstead’s death was eventually ruled “justifiable,” but a headline in a…

Carmen Best Is Doing Just Fine

Carmen Best Is Doing Just Fine

How can we create the future we want?

Retired Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best was thrust into the national spotlight in the summer of 2020 when the city erupted in protests. Many devolved into violence, and resulted in the subsequent months-long occupation of six downtown blocks. Protestors called for the city to defund or abolish the police. The Seattle City Council threatened to…