California, Washington and Oregon formed an alliance to ensure abortion access on the West Coast. Michigan’s leader asked the state’s highest court to rule quickly on her suit seeking to codify rights to the procedure. And in Illinois, the governor demanded a special legislative session.
As conservatives across the U.S. celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down the nationwide right to abortion, Democratic leaders moved to make sure they could ensure access to reproductive care where the politics allow it.
The high court’s ruling sets the stage for a bifurcated America when it comes to the ability to get an abortion, with access to the procedure dependent on where in the country a woman resides. Only 14 states have a Democratic governor along with legislative bodies controlled by the party, while 23 have Republicans in control.
In liberal strongholds, the reaction to the decision was swift and fierce.
Officials in California, home to almost 40 million Americans, vowed to lead other states in serving as an abortion sanctuary. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Friday that seeks to protect out-of-state abortion seekers from civil actions in their home states, just one of several bills aimed at expanding access.
“I want folks to know all around the rest of the country and many parts of the globe, that I hope we’re an antidote to your fear, to your anxiety, perhaps to the cynicism that many of you are feeling about the fate and future of not only our state but the world we’re living in,” Newsom said at a press briefing, flanked by Attorney General Rob Bonta, state legislators and reproductive rights advocates.
Newsom, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington’s Jay Inslee put out a joint statement ruling out cooperation with out-of-state investigations to prosecute abortion cases and promising to boost access to reproductive services.
In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vowed to “fight like hell” to keep abortion legal. The state has a law on its books from 1931 that outlaws abortion, but it has been blocked by a temporary lower court ruling. On Friday, she filed a motion with the state’s highest court for an expedited briefing in her suit seeking recognition of abortion rights within the state constitution.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker — who, like Whitmer and Newsom, is up for reelection this year — called for the General Assembly to meet in a special session in the coming weeks “to further enshrine our commitment to reproductive health care rights and protections.” New York Attorney General Letitia James pledged her state will remain a haven, saying she’ll “work tirelessly to ensure our most vulnerable and people from hostile states have access to this lifesaving care.”
Republican governors who support abortion rights, including Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker, New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu and Larry Hogan in Maryland, also sought to demonstrate that they’d keep abortion legal in their states.