Twenty-one of the nation’s 24 Democratic governors met in a consortium Monday to devise ways to expand abortion access in their states and help women from red states terminate pregnancies.
Led by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Reproductive Freedom Alliance held its inaugural meeting in Los Angeles, where the group said governors shared pro-choice victories they achieved over the past year to “build a firewall for reproductive freedom in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned last summer.”
Those reproductive health victories included laws expanding contraceptive options and transgender access to gender-transition treatments in addition to legal, legislative, ballot and executive actions aimed at thwarting abortion restrictions in red states.
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek touted her recent expansion of abortion providers and gender-affirming care access in two measures that passed the state Legislature last month after GOP lawmakers staged a six-week walkout.
“We made strides again this year to protect abortion patients and providers, expand access to gender-affirming care, and secure access to essential medication despite baseless lawsuits that put politics above science,” Ms. Kotek said. “Even Oregon is not immune from the attacks on health care rights we are seeing in states across the country.”
The governors also heard briefings from abortion providers on the fragmentation of access to the procedure after the Supreme Court ruled last year to overturn the constitutional right to abort a fetus and returned jurisdiction to state legislatures. About half the states have since moved to restrict abortion, while the other half have expanded it.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul noted that her deep blue state enacted laws protecting abortion rights, including access to abortion pills that make up most procedures, and creating a $30 million fund to support abortion providers.
“Together with my fellow pro-choice governors, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to ensure women across America have improved access to safe, legal abortion care,” Ms. Hochul said.
Besides deep blue states like California and New York, executives from every Democrat-led presidential battleground state attended Monday’s meeting. They included Govs. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.
“Protecting access to women’s reproductive health care is a top priority, and today’s conversation allowed us to exchange ideas and hear from providers who are on the front lines of this work,” said Mr. Cooper, whose state enacted a 12-week abortion ban this month after the Legislature’s GOP supermajority overrode his veto. “Your ZIP code shouldn’t determine your rights, but because of this Supreme Court, that’s where we are.”
Other pro-choice governors in attendance Monday were: Arizona’s Katie Hobbs, Colorado’s Jared Polis, Connecticut’s Ned Lamont, Delaware’s John Carney, Hawaii’s Josh Green, Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker, Maine’s Janet Mills, Maryland’s Wes Moore, Massachusetts’ Maura Healey, Minnesota’s Tim Walz, New Jersey’s Phil Murphy, New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, Rhode Island’s Dan McKee and Washington’s Jay Inslee.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero of Guam, a U.S. territory, also attended the meeting.
Three Democratic governors of red states did not attend: Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards, who supports his state’s recent abortion ban with some exceptions for the health of the mother and rape and incest; Kentucky’s Andy Beshear, who supports some restrictions on late-term abortions; and Kansas’ Laura Kelly, who has vetoed several pro-life bills passed by the Legislature’s GOP majority.
Senior staff members of the 21 gubernatorial offices that attended will sit down later this week to discuss follow-up actions and plan a second meeting of governors later this year, the alliance said.
Announced in February, the alliance lets governors and their staffs share model statutory language and executive orders expanding abortion access, legal defenses against prosecution, strategies to maximize federal funding for birth control and support for manufacturers of abortion medication and contraceptives.
The alliance has received startup funding from the California Wellness Foundation and the Rosenberg Foundation, two left-leaning advocacy groups.
From Washington Times