Abortion rights: Three sanctuary states launch "West Coast offense"

Los Angeles, California - In response to the Supreme Court's decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, removing the federal right to abortion, three US governors have hit back by launching a "West Coast offense" in support of reproductive rights.

From l. ro r.: Oregon Governor Kate Brown, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
From l. ro r.: Oregon Governor Kate Brown, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee.  © Collage: Screenshot/YouTube/California Governor Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom, Jay Inslee, and Kate Brown – the governors of California, Washington, and Oregon, respectively – responded within hours of the historic ruling.

Newsom signed a bill that immediately protects abortion providers in the state from liability when caring for patients traveling from areas where the procedure is now banned or access is narrowed.

Assembly Bill 1666 will protect providers and patients in California from civil liability judgments based on claims made in anti-abortion states. It cements the state’s efforts to be a "beacon of hope," as 26 states are expected to ban the procedure outright or in most cases.

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Newsom said the law will push back against Republican states that allow private lawsuits against abortion providers and patients. Last year, Texas passed a law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.

"We will in no way shape or form, support, enable, investigate, resource, any of those activities or energies," Newsom said, adding that the new law is part of a larger package of more than a dozen bills aimed at providing "true sanctuary" for those seeking or providing abortions in the state.

Oregon and Washington join the offense

Protesters in Los Angeles marched against the Supreme Court's decision.
Protesters in Los Angeles marched against the Supreme Court's decision.  © REUTERS

Separately, California was joined by Washington and Oregon in issuing the Multi-State Commitment to Reproductive Freedom, a commitment to "defend access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion and contraceptives."

Among other measures, the agreement promises to protect out-of-state patients seeking abortions from prosecution and to refuse law-enforcement cooperation with investigations launched in states where abortion is outlawed.

"Washington state remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting the ability and right of every patient who comes to our state in need of abortion care, and we will fight like hell to restore that right to patients all across the country," Washington Governor Inslee said.

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Governor Brown of Oregon added: "For all the Americans today feeling scared, angry and disappointed – for everyone who needs an abortion and does not know where they can access safe reproductive health care – please know you are not alone, and the fight is not over."

Other mostly-Democratic run states are also expected to pass measures strengthening abortion rights as the upending of Roe v. Wade effectively creates two separate Americas.

Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot/YouTube/California Governor Gavin Newsom

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