While Congress continues to take aim at reproductive rights, a group of 20 Democratic governors announced an alliance this week aimed at expanding and protecting abortion rights in their states.
The Reproductive Freedom Alliance, as they’re calling it, is spearheaded by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and comes about eight months after the U.S. Supreme Court upended federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade.
“In the face of this unprecedented assault by states hostile to abortion rights and their enablers in the courts, we are pledging to work together to strengthen abortion firewalls across America. This fight isn’t over,” the governors said in a joint statement Tuesday.
They specifically highlighted the importance of protecting access to medication abortion, which several states have recently tried to stop providing.
While most of the governors involved hail from states with firm abortion protections already in place, some of them oversee states with harsh restrictions on the procedure. That includes Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who was unable to stop a near-total, pre-Roe abortion ban from going into effect after the Supreme Court’s decision, and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, who’s pushed back on his state’s 20-week abortion ban and successfully vetoed many other legislative attempts to limit the procedure.
“Every Wisconsinite should have the right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions without interference from politicians,” Evers said in a statement Tuesday. “That’s a right I’ll never stop fighting for as long as I’m governor — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the will of the people.”
While the governors have little influence on abortion access in states with harsh abortion restrictions, they can take steps to make the procedure as accessible as possible to out-of-state patients. Newsom has signed several pieces of legislation aimed at doing so, including a law banning California law enforcement from cooperating with out-of-state jurisdictions to punish anyone who comes to the state for abortion care.
The California governor praised the new alliance as a way to expand on those efforts, saying it will “stand as a firewall to fight for and protect providers, patients, and all who are affected by these attacks on fundamental rights.”
Since the fall of Roe, a dozen states have outright banned abortion. Most are clustered together in the South, further isolating patients there and forcing them to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to access abortion care. Several other states are expected to follow suit.