ONEAfter last week’s bombastic leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion revealed that most justices plan to overturn Roe v Wade, a handful of states have reaffirmed and expanded their abortion care.
In recent days, a flurry of bills and declarations has emerged in predominantly Democratic states as lawmakers and organizations struggle to prepare for the possibility of a post-Roe America.
As some states seek to become “safe havens” for out-of-state abortion seekers, other states are increasing abortion funding, expanding access to providers and offering legal protections against lawsuits launched by “bounty hunters” citizens. against those involved in abortions.
Only 38% of women of childbearing age live in states that showing support for abortion rights, according to the research organization Guttmacher Institute. In contrast, 58% live in states that have demonstrated hostility towards abortion rights. Only 4% of women live in intermediate states.
Last month, New York State Senator Liz Krueger presented a bill this would protect New York doctors who provide abortion services to out-of-state patients by prohibiting law enforcement from cooperating with out-of-state investigations into abortion provisions.
“At this critical time, New York must ensure access to abortion for both New Yorkers and refugees from other states who are being denied their basic rights,” Krueger told the Guardian.
“We must provide stringent protection for New York healthcare professionals from abominable and regressive laws in other states,” he added.
Likewise, Alessandra Biaggi, another New York state senator, presented a bill this would create an abortion access fund and allow taxpayers to contribute to it.
“We created this bill to ensure that we were not only saying that people have the right to abortion, but also that they have access to it because we know that simply saying the right does not mean that people have the means to do so. do it,” Biaggi told the Guardian.
In addition to transport costs, the fund would cover childcare services, accommodation, various medical expenses and other logistical support.
Biaggi also presented another bill that would offer out-of-state women seeking abortion or gender-affirming services the allegation of “illegal interference” with their rights if they end up facing criminal or civil complaints.
In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill in law that will protect people who provide or receive abortion services in Connecticut and are prosecuted in another state.
The nation’s first law, due to take effect July 1, will also improve access to abortion in Connecticut by expanding the pool of professionals qualified to perform certain abortion-related care.
“We want to make sure we have the healthcare infrastructure to serve not only our own residents, but also the people who will come here for care,” said State Representative Matt Blumenthal, who co-sponsored the bill.
With Connecticut poised to become one of the country’s few safe havens, lawmakers like Blumenthal are well aware of the challenges that will come with an increase in out-of-state abortion applicants.
“A possible influx of out-of-state patients… is definitely a concern. We’ve already seen individuals coming from Texas to get abortion assistance here in Connecticut and that was one of the reasons we wanted to expand the providers qualified to provide assistance,” he said.
Blumenthal added: “We have received important sources of funding in our budget this year to protect reproductive health in the state and this is very important because you know that the people who will be affected by these bans in other states will be disproportionately low-income people, people from color that cannot afford to travel freely.”
Another state that has been weaving additional abortion assistance funds into its laws is Oregon. In February, the Legislative Assembly established the Reproductive Health Equity Fund, which will allocate $15 million to the nonprofit Seeding Justice to expand access to abortion.
Sowing Justice has described the fund, which will help Oregon prepare for a ban on abortion in neighboring Idaho, as a “once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in access to abortion as a central part of Oregon’s health infrastructure.”
“These funds must be holistic…These funds are really focused on patients receiving[ting] care and extension of provider capacity,” said An Do, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.
Do continued: “In Oregon, we know we need to increase our healthcare infrastructure… and decrease the access wilderness… so I think it’s a great place to be able to make investments.”
California has also positioned itself as a “haven state” for abortion rights. In January, the state legislature introduced a package of 13 bills to designate California as a sanctuary for abortion care.
In addition to providing more legal protection for the privacy of out-of-state patients and providers, the bills seek to expand the number of providers that can provide abortion services.
One bill seeks to remove co-payments, deductibles and other cost-sharing requirements for abortions for all state-licensed health care plans issued after 2022. Another bill would deny out-of-state subpoenas for patient information about reproductive health services that are provided in California.
Other bills seek to protect California abortion providers by prohibiting the removal or suspension of medical licenses for a California licensee who provides abortion care that complies with state law.
In Colorado, lawmakers are also racing to codify abortion access protections. Colorado is one of the few states that does not require a 72-hour waiting period after abortion counseling. There are also no restrictions around when in a pregnancy a miscarriage can occur.
In April, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, officially codifying the right to abortion in state law.
According At the Colorado Department of Health, 13% of the 10,400 abortion seekers who had the procedure in Colorado in 2020 were from out of state. Since at least three of Colorado’s immediate neighbors are right or likely to ban abortion if Roe v Wade is overthrown, the state is bracing for a spike in out-of-state abortion applicants, which could lead Colorado residents to seek care.
Greer Donley, a University of Pittsburgh law professor specializing in reproductive health, told the Guardian: “People will feel the effects of Roe being taken down, even if his state continues to allow abortion.”
“The main way they’re going to see these effects is through wait times… If half of the states ban all or most abortions in the next few months, clinics in the blue states will be flooded with patients traveling from out of state,” she said. . .
As a result, Colorado clinics swore do everything possible to expand access to abortion providers as they grapple with labor shortages, long waiting times and postabortion complications.
“Capacity is critical. We know that clinics in Access States are scheduling patients in weeks instead of days and have added more exam rooms by consolidating offices and waiting areas. And opening new facilities is difficult, as is finding staff, as we are short of health workers,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy expert at the Guttmacher Institute.
“For patients, helping them pay for abortion and abortion-related travel is critical,” he added.
In Maryland, lawmakers past a bill last month that allows non-medical medical professionals to perform abortions. The law will allow trained nurses, midwives and medical assistants to perform the procedure.
In addition, the law will require the state to invest $3.5 million annually in abortion care training and will require most state insurers to cover the costs of abortion.
Last month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan introduced a lawsuit in a state court seeking to overturn the 1931 state law that criminalizes abortions unless they are performed to protect a woman’s life.
The action also seeks to establish the right to abortion in the state constitution.
Despite the various steps progressive states have taken to expand access to abortion, some still have certain restrictions that need to be removed to ensure that abortion care is fully accessible.
In addition to capacity issues, another significant constraint is cost. “States need to see how they help people pay for abortions, as we know that most patients pay for abortions out of pocket,” Nash said.
With at least 26 states poised, likely or certain, to ban abortion if Roe v Wade is overthrown, the fight for abortion rights is more urgent than ever.
“I can’t emphasize how seismic this shift is,” said An Do. “We have never lost a constitutional right. This is just the beginning… They [the justices] excluded all of us from the constitution. What’s next is marriage equality, what’s next is so many people’s access to birth control.
“We cannot be apathetic and we cannot lose ourselves in despair. We need to fight tooth and nail.”