Jay Inslee

Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, says it’s time for a federal law guaranteeing access to abortion.

“This is a freedom issue,” Inslee said this morning in Des Moines. “It is a freedom from government intrusion in your most personal part of your life…It is a freedom from having old men tell women what to do with their lives.”

Last year, Inslee approved a Washington state law requiring insurance policies that cover maternity care to cover abortion. This year, Inslee signed another bill that expands a 1991 law that guaranteed access to abortion for women in Washington state.

“I ran for the legislature in 1988 and it was about a 63-64 percent Republican district. It was a small, agricultural town in eastern Washington,” Inslee said. “…I spoke to the people about this issue being a freedom issue and I was elected by the people in a huge upset and I’ve always hewed to this issue ever since.”

Jay Inslee speaks at a NARAL forum.

NARAL Pro-Choice America invited six Iowa activists and two Democratic lawmakers to meet with Inslee in Des Moines early this morning to discuss the issue. One told Inslee about the Republican-led Iowa legislature’s attempt to deny federal grant money to Planned Parenthood staff who teach sex education classes to at-risk youth.

“Some of us think is you believe in driver’s ed you ought to believe in sex ed, too,” Inslee said. “They are equally worrisome.”

Nicole Brener Schmitz, NARAL’s national political director, said her group will invite other presidential candidates to have similar conversations with activists.

“If a woman is not treated as a full citizen and has full autonomy over her own body…she can’t make the best decisions about her own education and her own career,” Brener Schmitz said, “which really means we’re not getting the strongest middle class that America can have.”

Inslee is campaigning elsewhere today, visiting a community college program training students to maintain wind turbines. He’ll return to Iowa this weekend, as Inslee will be one of the 17 candidates scheduled to speak at an Iowa Democratic Party fundraiser in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, June 9.