Remember the Spokane, WA judge who revoked a divorce because the woman was pregnant? Other judges have made similar rulings in WA state.

“We thought this was the law about 50 years ago,” said Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, the bill’s sponsor.

“No kidding. I was surprised,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire, who signed the bill yesterday … More below:

The bill Gregoire signed adds two sentences to state law, clarifying that judges can’t use pregnancy as the sole basis for denying or delaying a divorce. Dickerson said the bill was crafted to avoid conflicts with the state’s child support law.

The law comes too late to help Shawnna Hughes, a Spokane woman “seeking to divorce her abusive husband.” The law takes effect July 23. Last month, Hughes gave birth to a baby girl. Hughes’ “appeal of the Spokane judge’s ruling is scheduled for oral arguments next month.”

The judge’s interpretation “set very dangerous policies for women, particularly women in violent relationships,” said Terri Sloyer, Hughes’ lawyer. “You’re basically holding them hostage in relationships with abusers.”

Hughes appealed. Lawyers supporting her said Bastine misinterpreted a state law intended to standardize paternity and protect the rights of children and the state.

Hughes’ estranged husband, Carlos Hughes, is in jail in Montana awaiting trial on federal drug charges. Hughes has stated in court records that the father of her baby is her companion, Chauncey Jacques, who pleaded guilty to a gang-related shooting in 1998 that blinded an elderly man.

While the Spokane case brought attention to the law, Dickerson said judges across the state have made similar decisions in divorce cases.

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