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Here’s what blue states have pledged with Roe v. Wade in flux

By Ella Ceron and Nic Querolo

Democratic states are finding themselves in uncharted territory as they set up funds to support abortion access not only for their own residents, but for those traveling from states where the procedure could be banned.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday that the state will allocate $35 million to protect abortion providers, the latest of at least 42 cost-related measures introduced in 12 states this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. Many are girding for a surge in demand for care, as neighboring states continue to restrict abortion access in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Blue states are taking more concrete efforts to cast themselves as abortion havens and combat the ongoing upheaval in access to reproductive care that was ratcheted up following the leaked Supreme Court opinion draft that may overturn Roe v. Wade. Reversing the 50-year precedent would mean abortion would no longer be protected by the U.S. Constitution and that states could make their own laws.

States led by Democrats want to ensure that there’s enough money to support the current framework of abortion procedures as well as a potential surge in demand from those traveling for the care.

Those funds could serve as a critical lifeline to thousands of people expected to travel for the procedure if it’s outlawed in their home states, including more than 32,000 expected to travel to New York from Ohio and Pennsylvania alone, according to the Guttmacher Institute. “An abortion costs about $550, and if you’re traveling, that’s hundreds of dollars more,” Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst with the organization, said. “That means a lot of people cannot afford an abortion.”

Jessica Arons, a senior policy council at the American Civil Liberties Union, expects such legislation to create further conflict between states, both ideologically and legally.

“With the Supreme Court turning its back on abortion rights, it is creating a vacuum that many states will rush to fill on both sides of the debate,” Arons said.

New York

State Attorney General Letitia James, along with state elected officials, proposed legislation that would create a fund to support abortion providers and nonprofits that provide financial support for low-income residents, as well as those coming in from states with more onerous restrictions or bans.

Nearly 7,000 abortion procedures performed in the state, or about 1 in 10, were for nonresidents in 2019. That number could more than quadruple if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The state Department of Health would operate the program, which would provide funds for care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay for care or their insurance status.

Hochul’s $35 million pledge would protect abortion providers in the state, with $25 million slated to provide safe access to abortion providers, and the remainder allocated for security.

California

California officials voiced plans to place a measure on ballots as soon as November that would enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

A package of 13 bills moving through the state legislature would address a range of access issues by funding abortion organizations, reducing bureaucratic hurdles, enacting legal protections for providers and patients coming from anti-abortion states as well providing financial assistance to those seeking care.

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed on Wednesday a $125 million package to bolster access to reproductive health services and prepare for an influx of people seeking abortions. The governor plans an additional $57 million in spending on top of a January budget proposal for $68 million in abortion-related funds.

Illinois

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot earmarked $500,000 from the city’s Department of Public Health to support access to reproductive health care for Chicagoans and patients seeking safe, legal care from neighboring states. The move was part of a broader pledge by the mayor to maintain the city’s status as a haven.

Illinois has seen an increase in nonresidents seeking abortion care in recent years. Abortion caregivers in Illinois provided services to over 7,500 people from out of state in 2019, more than double the number seen in 2014, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.

Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation in April that established a $15 million fund aimed at providing immediate and urgent patient needs for abortion funds as well as costs like travel and lodging.

The move predates the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion, and was made in anticipation of neighboring Idaho’s ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The funds are also intended to help expand provider network capacity, according Seeding Justice, the nonprofit administering the program.

Massachusetts

State representatives included a provision within the House’s proposed 2023 budget to set aside $500,000 for three abortion funds in an effort to expand access, and state Sen. Karen Spilka has indicated that the Senate will increase that to $2 million.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said “we would certainly entertain additional funding for those providers to make sure they have the resources they need to take care of the people that need their services.”

Maryland

Lawmakers earmarked $3.5 million per year starting in 2023 to train clinicians who aren’t doctors to serve as abortion providers, but Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has indicated he would withhold those funds. He previously vetoed the Abortion Care Access Act, which set the provision for that money. The House later overruled that decision and the act is set to go into effect on July 1.

The bill also reforms how residents can access state Medicaid funds to cover their abortion care. “Because of the bureaucracy in the state, it was very hard for patients to actually access that care,” said Arons with the ACLU.

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Dive Deeper:
New York to direct $35m to abortion care as state prepares for patients after Roe v Wade ruling: ‘We have to guarantee access’
States that have codified abortion care are bolstering access ahead of Supreme Court decision
Blue states want to become abortion safe havens. It will cost them.
Groups that operate clinics and run abortion access funds warn that they’ll need more money, more providers and more space…
Pro-choice states rush to pledge legal shield for out-of-state abortions
Impending end to legal abortion in half the states will strain capacity and resources in states preserving abortion access
The End of Roe Heralds the Rise of Pro-Abortion, Big Government Policies
Liberal states don't want to treat abortion as a personal, private choice either. Instead, blue state policy makers want to…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Inside New Mexico’s battle to keep up with surging abortion demand as neighbouring states enact bans
Providers and organizers in New Mexico are working to meet a huge increase in demand for abortions from out-of-state patients…
The states where abortion access is protected without Roe
Over 130 bills to expand and protect abortion have been introduced in the 2022 legislative cycle.
Get all your news in one place