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Republican Strongholds Immediately Ban Abortions After Roe Ruling

·5 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Republican bastions long hostile to abortion celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision that ended the nationwide right to the procedure, with Texas and Missouri immediately declaring the practice to be illegal in those states.

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Democratic leaders in states including New York vowed to shore up reproductive rights. California, Oregon and Washington issued a joint statement pledging to defend access to abortion on the West Coast and allow residents of other states to access care there.

The high court’s momentous ruling means that laws regarding one of the most hotly contested social issues in the U.S. will now mostly be decided on a state-by-state basis, so that whether women have access to the procedure will be determined by where they live. Some of the nation’s biggest abortion providers stopped offering the procedure within hours of Texas’s declaration that it’s now banned.

Texas and Missouri were among 26 states considered “certain or likely” to ban or limit abortion in the post-Roe era, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Twenty-two of those states have laws or constitutional amendments to prohibit the procedure. The other four have political composition or have taken recent action that indicates they would limit access, according to Guttmacher.

Nine states -- Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin -- had an abortion ban on the books before the 1973 Roe decision. Thirteen -- Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming -- have so-called trigger bans, in which a law would or could take effect automatically in the absence of Roe.

Texas Laws

In Texas, existing statutes that predate Roe now make abortion illegal in the state, Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. The Roe decision was originally based on a challenge to a Texas law that forbade abortion.

“Some prosecutors may choose to immediately pursue criminal prosecutions,” Paxton wrote.

At least one Texas group dedicated to providing financial support for women who need help getting an abortion has paused its activities. Frontera Fund, based in the border town of McAllen where it serves primarily Hispanic women in the impoverished Rio Grande Valley, said it needs time to evaluate how it can continue to help women in light of the new law.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he signed an opinion to end abortion in that state, calling it “a monumental day for the sanctity of life.”

Georgia Restrictions

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis lauded the court’s ruling and said he would work to “expand pro-life protections” in the state.

Georgia may soon join states that severely restrict abortion. A law passed in 2019 outlaws abortions after a fetal cardiac activity is detected -- usually after about six weeks -- but it has been on hold at a federal appeals court since September because of the pending Supreme Court ruling. Georgia’s measure differs from other so-called “heartbeat” laws banning abortion by also granting a fetus personhood, allowing parents to claim it as a dependent for taxes and entitling it to child support.

Local officials in metro Atlanta have already signaled they won’t comply with Georgia’s law. The Atlanta City Council has asked city police to make investigations into abortions their lowest priority, and district attorneys in Fulton and DeKalb counties -- which house parts of Atlanta -- have said they won’t prosecute people under the law.

New York Attorney General Letitia James took to Twitter to affirm the Empire State will remain a “safe haven” for those who need abortions. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire Democrat, called for lawmakers to meet in a special session “to further enshrine our commitment to reproductive health care rights and protections.”

West Coast

The joint statement from the governors of California, Oregon and Washington said they won’t cooperate with out-of-state investigations looking to prosecute abortion cases and will protect against the misuse of medical records to target patients. The states will boost access to abortion care services by expanding access to medical abortion and telehealth services.

See also: California to Redouble Efforts as Abortion Haven

Democrats are seeking to demonstrate their commitment to providing access to abortion, hoping it will give them an electoral advantage, while Republicans portrayed the decision as the culmination of years of hard work.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of the largest independent abortion provider in the US, said it remains committed to providing high-quality abortion care following the overturning of Roe, through clinics in states like Maryland, Minnesota, and Virginia, and through the mail to those states along with Illinois and New Mexico. Whole Women’s Health is “exploring plans” to expand in-clinic and mail services to other states where abortion is legally protected.

In Michigan, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer denounced the Court’s decision and vowed to “fight like hell” to keep abortion legal in Michigan.

Michigan Stay

Michigan has a law on its books from 1931 that outlaws abortion. Whitmer said the law won’t take effect because of a temporary stay from a state court ruling in May.

“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,” Whitmer said.

In California, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed $125 million of state spending to bolster access to reproductive health care and prepare for an influx of people seeking abortions. He also has vowed to seek voter approval to enshrine the right to an abortion in California’s constitution.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has proposed a bill to require private insurers to cover the cost of abortion.

New England states are almost entirely supportive of abortion rights. Massachusetts passed a law guaranteeing abortion rights in late 2020, and New Hampshire, which bans abortion after 24 weeks, softened its position in May, allowing exceptions for the mother’s life or fatal fetal conditions, and lifting the requirement for an ultrasound.

In Massachusetts, Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order to further protect abortion access in the state. It also bars agencies from helping another state’s investigation into any “person or entity for receiving or delivering reproductive health services that are legal in Massachusetts.”

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