Wednesday, June 29, 2022

How Blue States Are Enhancing Abortion Access

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Shreya Christina
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Blue states have been preparing for months for the possibility of the US Supreme Court falling Roe v. Wade this summer. There have been plenty of signals, even before a recently leaked opinion, showing the Court’s readiness to rule in favor of anti-abortion lawyers in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

So far in 2022, at least nine Democrat-controlled legislatures have passed legislation that affirms that abortion is a legal right, protects those who desire and performs abortion, and expands access to the procedure, sometimes with significant government funding.

Republican-led lawmakers in Texas, Idaho and Oklahoma have already passed laws banning abortions after fetal heart activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many even know they’re pregnant. This increases the demand for care in neighboring countries where women can travel to have abortions performed. Some of those picking up the slack now won’t be able to much longer: Louisiana, for example, borders Texas and is one of at least 13 states who have enacted “trigger laws” meaning the clinics there will be closed if Roe is destroyed.

Nothing that blue states do will be able to fill the already existing critical gaps in abortion access, and that will only get bigger if the Supreme Court actually overthrows roe as set out in the draft opinion leaked to Politico† there is no threat in the near future to states seeking to preserve abortion rights in the case currently pending in court. (That’s not to say abortion opponents won’t) push for a nationwide abortion ban in the longer term). But blue states are doing what they can to ensure access to abortion for their own citizens, and to reduce the potential influx of patients from states where people cannot get an abortion if they roe is tipped over.

“They are about to strengthen access for 26 other states† It is an impossible burden to impose on these states that believe in a woman’s right to choose,” former Democratic Texas senator Wendy Davis, a longtime advocate of abortion rights, told cafemadrid. “It will take a cohesive national effort to try to fill that gap, recognizing that it will never completely fill that gap.”

Here’s what those efforts look like.

Codification of Abortion Rights in State Law

Anticipating the absence of a federally protected right to abortion, some states have passed their own laws that roe and abortion rights in state law. States including: IllinoisNew YorkRhode IslandVermontand Massachusetts have had those laws on the books for years. New JerseyColoradoand Connecticut measures taken earlier this year, and it seems that California will join them soon.

Have other measures to protect abortion rights passed at least one room in several states, but it can be difficult to actually implement them. In Washington, for example, abortion rights are protected by law, and lawmakers have considered a change that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. But Democrats do not have a supermajority in either chamber of the state legislature, and it takes a two-thirds majority to pass an amendment to the ballot.

Democrats are also working to ensure that laws restricting abortions that were on the books before the Supreme Court ruled roe in 1973 will not be enforced in the future.

One of those Michigan laws, enacted in 1931, criminalizes abortion without exception for rape or incest. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has recognized that the GOP-controlled state legislature probably won’t overthrow it, so they early Michigan Supreme Court last month to take it down and affirm that the state constitution includes the right to access abortion.

“The Michigan Constitution’s due process clause protects the right to abortion in the same way that the US Constitution does per Roe, and the equal protection clause prohibits the state from passing laws based on paternalistic justifications and over-broad generalizations. on the role of women. at work and at home,” Whitmer wrote Monday in the New York Times

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has also said he will do not enforce a state law passed in 1849 that makes abortion a felony with sentences of up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, local officials may still choose to enforce the law, which is likely to cause legal problems.

Protecting people undergoing and administering abortions

While roe still stands, Republicans have generally been careful not to punish people for having abortions. Even the strictest anti-abortion laws currently enforced, including Texas-style “heartbeat” laws, typically target only those performing or assisting abortions and explicitly exempt patients from any liability. Some states have also explicitly exempted people who undergo abortions from criminal manslaughter. But there’s no guarantee it won’t change if roe being destroyed, so Democratic legislators in several states are working to give pregnant people extra protection.

At least six states have introduced legislation to protect people who have abortions themselves, mainly through: FDA-approved pills† Washington, DC, al excluded prosecution for self-induced abortion in 2020. Washington state also recently passed a law banning the state: criminalize pregnancy outcomes starts in June. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, vetoed a similar measure, and other such bills in Minnesota and Michigan are unlikely to advance.

Criminalizing pregnancy outcomes, including abortion, can have far-reaching consequences. Even after roe it was decided, at least 1,200 women have been arrested and prosecuted for miscarriage, stillbirth, or attempting to terminate their own pregnancy. Having Pregnancy Outcomes being criminalized through fetal assault laws (enforceable in 29 states at any stage of pregnancy), policies that punish pregnant people for substance use, and legal attempts to force pregnant people to receive medical treatment for the benefit of a fetus. Expanding criminalization would affect disproportionately Black and working-class women have side effects not only for the pregnant person, but also for oftentheir existing children.

Democrats have also tried to protect people who perform or aid in abortion. At least eight states have introduced bills to protecting abortion clinics from violence, although Maine is the only one enacting such legislation. Starting in July, the state will establish a two-meter buffer zone around the entrances to health centers, including abortion clinics, to prevent anti-abortion protesters from blocking the entrance or harassing patients or staff.

Expanding access to abortion

Even in the most progressive states, there are still gaps in abortion accessibility, such as a California state government report outlined in Dec. Rapidly ramping up access will be critical as blue states take steps become refuges for out-of-state abortion patients

Sixteen states already funds abortions through state Medicaid programs, as federal law does not allow the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Earlier this year, Maryland also removed some administrative barriers to Medicaid abortion coverage, and Oregon allocated $15 million to its state and local health departments for abortion services. New York and California joined Maryland in passing legislation to expand abortion coverage through private health plans. But those measures that expand Medicaid and private insurance coverage for abortions won’t help out-of-state patients.

Some states have also worked to expand access to abortion training and broaden the categories of medical professionals who can perform abortions. Beginning in June, Washington will allow physician assistants, advanced practice nurses and other health professionals to perform abortions. Maryland will also establish an abortion clinic training program beginning in July with annual funding of $3.5 million.

Proposals are pending four states to expand access to drug abortion – the method used in about half of American abortions and that has been favored during the pandemic – but none have passed yet. They could be instrumental in helping abortion clinics grow their capacity quickly, as women don’t necessarily have to go to a clinic to get the pills, a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol and approved for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. pregnancy.

Still, those measures won’t make up for the sudden shutdown of abortion clinics in half of the US if roe is tipped over.

“You have 36 million women of childbearing age who would live in a state without access to abortion,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy expert at the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy group. “And you can’t imagine that the states that protect access to abortion can meet that need.”

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