As the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, several states will move to restrict or ban abortion entirely while others have already taken measures — and will continue to further instill laws — that will maintain abortion availability in the states.
On Friday, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which has the effect of overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” adding, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
As of last month, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., had no limits on abortion. However, several states, including California and Washington, allow abortion until viability but provide exceptions to the latter standard to protect the life or health of the person seeking an abortion.
After the ruling was announced on Friday, the governors of Oregon, California, and Washington “issued a Multi-State Commitment to defend access to reproductive health care,” including abortion and birth control, and “committed to protecting patients and doctors against efforts by other states to export their abortion bans to our states.”
The governors of the three states released a video describing how the West Coast will remain an area in which women will be able to get an abortion.
Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) said the Supreme Court “want[s] to strip women of their liberty and let Republican states replace it with mandated birth,” saying that the justices want to go back to a time period “when women were not treated as equal citizens under the law.”
Governor Kate Brown (D-OR) said, “For all the Americans today feeling scared, angry and disappointed — for everyone who needs an abortion and does not know where they can access safe reproductive health care — please know you are not alone, and the fight is not over.”
Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA) added that over half of the population in the U.S. “now lacks safe access to a medical procedure that only a patient and their doctor can and should make for themselves. Instead, law enforcement, vigilantes and judicial systems can force patients to bear the burdens of forced pregnancy and birth.” Inslee added that Washington will keep committing to “protecting the ability and right of every patient who comes to our state in need of abortion care.”
The governors laid out the ways that each of them has expanded abortion, such as Newsom proposing a $125 million Reproductive Health Package to, in part, prepare for women coming into the state from areas that restrict abortion. California Democrats also recently introduced legislation to enshrine abortion and contraception rights into the state’s constitution. Newsom also signed a measure that eliminated out-of-pocket costs for abortions, making abortion essentially free for most people with insurance.
In 2017, Oregon codified abortion into state law when Brown signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which also broadened so-called reproductive health care for all citizens of Oregon.
Earlier this year, Inslee signed a bill that would not allow lawsuits to be brought against those who try to get an abortion or those who provide them.
New Jersey is another state that could act as a “safe haven” where women will get abortions from other states in which the procedure is banned or restricted. Last year, the state altered its rule for who is allowed to perform abortions, allowing some licensed medical workers other than doctors to do so. Governor Phil Murphy (D) has proposed even more access, including forcing insurance companies to pay for abortions with no out-of-pocket costs for the woman.
The piece of draft legislation would also prohibit prosecutors in the state from working with investigations across states or extradition attempts of New Jersey abortion doctors or people who go to them. It would provide $20 million “with $15 million for an abortion care clinical training programs and $5 million for security guards and security equipment to protect abortion facilities from attacks,” according to NJ.com. This draft legislation has so far not gained much traction in the state legislature in New Jersey.
“We’re never going to be a state that looks like Texas or Georgia or other states — Oklahoma — that are going in the direction of taking rights away from people,” Murphy reportedly said in a recent NPR interview. “We are going to expand rights.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) told New Yorkers Friday that “an abortion remains safe, accessible and legal in New York,” adding, “Our state will always be a safe harbor for those seeking access to abortion care.”
In Michigan, there is a law from almost a hundred years ago that would ban abortion in the state if Roe was overturned, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has challenged the law, along with another lawsuit, to get rid of the potential ban. The law is currently paused by the state court.
“The 1931 law would punish women and strip away their right to make decisions about their own bodies,” Whitmer said in a statement, as the punishment for providers would reportedly be felony manslaughter. “I am deeply disappointed that Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders have been in court defending this draconian ban, to the detriment of women and families.”
Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf (D) has said he will continue opposing pro-life bills while he is governor, but his term ends in several months.
In Alaska, abortion is protected under the state constitution and law, but Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy said last month that he thinks “turning over Roe v. Wade, if that happens, will cause a renewed conversation in Alaska as to where Alaska wants to go on this particular issue.”
On August 2, Kansas voters will decide whether the state constitution should be altered to state that there is no right to an abortion.
The states that protect abortion by legislation or codified laws include California, Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, where the state’s code does not allow interference with someone’s right to abortion.
Other states that have a right to abortion protected in their constitution include Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, and Oregon.