State leaders take bold action to protect abortion access following the overturning of Roe
For Immediate Release: July 21, 2022
In the nearly four weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the federal constitutional right to abortion, state lawmakers across the country who support abortion rights have stepped up. They’ve taken bold action to protect the health and rights of their constituents. From advancing measures to bolster patients’ and providers’ ability to access and give care, to increasing funding for abortion access, they continue to demonstrate the critical role of state governments in supporting access to abortion.
- California: Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, California lawmakers announced a $125 million reproductive health package to bolster the state’s health care infrastructure, expand access for patients, and increase security at health centers. Following the decision, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order stating that California will not share information, including medical records, or expend state resources to assist states hostile to abortion. It also ensures that the governor will decline extradition requests involving reproductive health care services that are lawful in California. Newsom also signed a bill that is intended to shield patients and medical professionals who obtain or provide abortion in California from lawsuits by states where abortion is banned. Several other bills to expand abortion access, including Senate Constitutional Amendment 10 — which would further codify abortion rights into law if approved by voters — have also passed their respective committees and continue to make their way through the state's legislative process.
- Colorado: Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order protecting abortion providers and patients who come to Colorado for care from states where abortion is banned. The measure prohibits state agencies from sharing information, including medical records, or use state resources to assist in investigations related to reproductive health care that is legal in Colorado. It declares the governor will exercise his discretion to decline to extradite people who may face charges in another state for obtaining an abortion in Colorado. The order also protects providers from being disciplined or disqualified in Colorado for providing reproductive health care that is legal in the state.
- Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, and Senate President Don Harmon announced that a special session focused on abortion will be called later this year. First, they will conduct a thorough assessment of how Illinois can address the abortion access crisis and further protect reproductive freedoms. Prior to the decision, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also announced the Justice For All Pledge, which included $500,000 toward increasing access to health care services, including abortion.
- Maine: Gov. Janet Mills signed an executive order directing state agencies to review existing laws and statutes on reproductive health care to ensure that barriers to accessing care are reduced where possible. The order also prohibits state agencies from working with investigators from other states who seek to prosecute patients or medical professionals for obtaining or delivering care in Maine. The governor also pledges to decline extradition requests involving reproductive health care services that are legal in Maine.
- Massachusetts: Lawmakers are advancing both a proposal to allocate $15 million for reproductive health care and a bill that would affirm constitutional protections for abortion, offer abortion coverage without cost-sharing, further protect abortion providers, and prevent law enforcement from participating in investigations in legally protected health care. Gov. Charlie Baker also issued an executive order shielding Massachusetts providers from the threat of losing their licenses or other disciplinary action because of lawsuits from a state that criminalizes providing abortion. It also blocks the state from assisting with investigations related to abortion care and directs the governor to decline extradition requests related to reproductive health care services that are legal in Massachusetts.
- Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues to fight to protect abortion access. She is again asking the state Supreme Court to take action on her lawsuit challenging Michigan's 90-year-old pre-Roe criminal abortion ban. The law would have taken effect when Roe was overturned were it not for a preliminary injunction by the Michigan Court of Claims handed down in Planned Parenthood of Michigan's case challenging the law. Michiganders may also get to vote for abortion rights this fall in the first citizen-initiated constitutional amendment ballot measure to enshrine abortion access in a state constitution. Last week, the coalition behind the ballot initiative submitted more than 750,000 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State, well beyond the 425,059 valid signatures from registered Michigan voters required to qualify for the ballot in the Nov. 8 election. Gov. Whitmer also signed an executive order refusing to extradite abortion providers for violation of another state’s law or patients who come to Michigan to access abortion.
- Minnesota: Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order intended to shield people seeking or providing abortions in Minnesota from lawsuits in states where abortion is criminalized. The governor will also reject requests from hostile states to extradite people who access abortion in Minnesota. In addition, a Minnesota judge recently struck down a spate of many medically unnecessary state restrictions on abortion as unconstitutional. The laws that were overturned included a two-parent notification requirement for minors, criminalization for providers found in defiance of the laws, a 24-hour waiting period, as well as provider and hospital restrictions.
- Nevada: Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an executive order protecting patients and providers by blocking state departments and employees from giving information and resources to a state seeking to prosecute someone for having an abortion. He pledged to decline extradition requests related to reproductive health care services that are legal in Nevada and ensured abortion providers cannot be disciplined or disqualified for providing an abortion based on another states’ laws.
- North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order barring state agencies under his control from assisting in hostile states’ attempts to prosecute patients who travel to North Carolina for an abortion. It also shields patients from extradition for seeking abortion services in North Carolina.
- New Jersey: Lawmakers are advancing a proposal for $20 million in funding to newly establish a Reproductive Health Access fund. Gov. Phil Murphy also signed legislation intended to shield abortion providers and patients from out-of-state anti-abortion lawsuits and prohibit the extradition of people who come to New Jersey to access abortion.
- New Mexico: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from cooperating with hostile states' investigations about abortion and pledging to decline any extradition requests related to reproductive health care. The order also ensures providers are not disciplined or disqualified for providing abortion care that is legal in New Mexico but may be outlawed elsewhere.
- New York: The New York State Assembly passed the Equality Amendment earlier this month. This historic legislation expands the protected classes under the equal rights amendment in the New York Constitution to several new identity classes, including ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, and sex. Sex includes sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, reproductive health care, and autonomy. The amendment is intended to guarantee a constitutional right to reproductive health care and protect rights such as marriage equality for any individual in the state of New York. It must now pass a second legislative session before heading to the ballot in 2024. Additionally, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that $10 million in the Abortion Provider Supporter Fund has been sent to more than 60 health centers. Attorney General Letitia James launched a Pro Bono Task Force on Reproductive Health Care that brings private law firms together to offer legal guidance about abortion to New Yorkers and those seeking care in New York.
- Oregon: Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, Oregon lawmakers enacted a bill to provide $15 million to establish a Reproductive Equity Fund. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also joined the governors of California and Washington to issue a multi-state commitment to bolster and defend access to reproductive health care.
- Rhode Island: Gov. Dan McKee signed an executive order protecting access to abortion by ensuring health care providers do not lose their licenses or face disciplinary action from out-of-state charges and safeguarding patients seeking abortion in Rhode Island from legal liability in states where abortion is criminalized.
- Washington: Gov. Jay Inslee announced $1 million in funding for reproductive health care providers who expect a surge in out-of-state patients and a directive that the state will not cooperate with investigations from states hostile to abortion access. The King Country Executive Dow Constantine also announced that $500,000 of the emergency funding will go to public health related to the surge of patients expected to travel to King County to access abortion.
- Wisconsin: Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal abortion ban. The suit argues that the archaic law, which has been unenforceable since 1973 following Roe v. Wade, should remain unenforceable because it conflicts with abortion laws that have since been passed by state lawmakers. The governor has also announced he would provide clemency for anyone prosecuted under the ban.
On the other end of the spectrum, states with lawmakers hostile to abortion rights also continue to double down on efforts to further restrict or ban abortion. So far, four states, Arkansas, Indiana, and South Carolina have announced plans to convene special sessions where they will likely take up the issue of abortion. State lawmakers in Missouri, Nebraska, and West Virginia have expressed support for holding special sessions well.
The first post-Roe legislative battle began in South Carolina, where lawmakers recently held hearings on a pre-filed bill based on a model bill circulated by the National Right to Life Committee that would ban all abortion. It criminalizes health care providers and makes it illegal to even provide someone with information about abortion services. Indiana lawmakers reconvene next week and are expected to take action on a total abortion ban. Also this month, Pennsylvania lawmakers advanced a dangerous constitutional amendment that, if eventually approved by voters, would eliminate Pennsylvanians' constitutional right to abortion.