Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, California, Oregon and Washington announced a pact to ensure patients from around the country can safely access abortion care on the West Coast and vowed to resist interference from other state governments.
The agreement, deemed the Multi-State Commitment to Reproductive Freedom, is an acknowledgment that states with abortion bans may soon attempt to stop their residents from seeking out the procedure in states where it remains legal.
“We will not stand on the sidelines as these attacks mount,” the three Democratic governors said in the announcement.
They’re committing to work on several safeguards for abortion patients and providers who are seeking and administering care in their states, including protecting against any cooperation with out-of-state investigations and arrests; refusing the extradition of people wanted for abortion-related criminal prosecution in other states; protecting people’s medical records; defending abortion providers against attempts to have their licenses revoked; fending off misinformation about reproductive health care; and expanding abortion access in California, Oregon and Washington.
“This is not the America we know ― and it’s not the California way,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement, adding, “We refuse to go back and we will fight like hell to protect our rights and our values.”
“Abortion is health care, and no matter who you are or where you come from, Oregon doesn’t turn away anyone seeking health care. Period,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said.
“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 Gov. Jay Inslee said.
More than a dozen states are expected to ban or severely restrict abortion following the Supreme Court’s decision, and some already have.
The first state to enact its “trigger ban” Friday was Missouri, where a lawmaker earlier this year attempted to pass legislation allowing private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” a resident traveling to get an abortion outside of Missouri.
Anti-abortion activists are working to help more lawmakers do the same. Earlier this month, the general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee began circulating model legislation cracking down on out-of-state abortion care.
Though Justice Brett Kavanaugh, one of the key justices who voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, said Friday he wouldn’t uphold any laws that ban traveling out of state for an abortion, his words carry little weight. During his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh said he viewed Roe v. Wade as “settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court,” only to join Friday’s decision declaring the opposite.