The blue states are prepping for months for an eventuality that the US Supreme Court will
overturn Roe v. Wade this summer. There were many signs that prior to the release of a leaked
opinion showed that the Court is ready to rule in favor of pro-abortion groups with regard to
Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
In 2022 there are at least nine Democratic-controlled legislators passed bills declaring the
legality of abortion as a right, ensuring those who want to have abortions and do them, as well
as increasing access to the procedure often with substantial public funds.
Legislative bodies of the Republican party in Texas, Idaho, and Oklahoma have passed laws
that prohibit abortions once the detection of fetal cardiac activity usually at least six weeks
pregnant and before many women realize they’re pregnant. This is causing more demand for
medical care in the states that are adjacent to them, where women can travel to obtain
abortions. Some of those who are picking the pieces currently won’t be able to continue for long:
Louisiana, for example, has a border with Texas as well as being one of 13 states which have
passed “trigger laws,” meaning that clinics in Louisiana will close when Roe is ruled
The blue states will not be able to fill in for the critical gaps in access to abortion that are in
place and will only grow in the event that it is decided that Supreme Court does actually
overturn Roe in the manner outlined within the draft decision that was leaked by Politico.
There’s no danger from the Supreme Court in the near term for states that wish to keep abortion
rights intact in the present case being heard by the Court. (That’s not to say that abortion
opponents will not advocate for a national prohibition on abortion in the long run). However, blue
states do all they can to guarantee the right to abortion for their residents and are preparing for
the possibility of a flow of patients from states in which people will not be able to access
abortions in the event that Roe is ruled out.
“They’re likely to need to improve access to abortion to abortion for 26 additional states. This is
a massive responsibility to place on states that support the right of women to decide,” former
Democratic Texas state senator. Wendy Davis, a long-time pro-choice advocate spoke to Vox.
“It’s going to require a cohesive national effort to try to fill that gap, understanding that it’s never
going to completely fill the gap.”
The codification of abortion rights in the law of the state
In anticipation of the absence of a federally-protected right to abortion, several states have
passed a law that codifies the Roe and the right to abortion in state law. States comprising
Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts have had these laws in force for
a long time. New Jersey, Colorado, as well as Connecticut, adopted measures this year and it
appears that California is set to join them.
Other measures to safeguard the right to abortion have been approved by at least one of the
chambers in many states, but making them law could be a struggle. In Washington the state of
Washington, for example, the right to abortion is protected by the law, and legislators are
considering the possibility of an amendment that would codify abortion rights into state
constitutions. However, Democrats don’t have a majority within either the legislature or
chambers of state government and the law requires an absolute majority of two-thirds to place
amending the constitution on the ballot.
Democrats are working to ensure that laws that restrict abortions were in force prior to when the
Supreme Court decided Roe in 1973 cannot be enforced from now on.
One of these Michigan laws, passed in 1931, makes abortion illegal, with no exceptions for
incest or rape. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat has admitted that the Republican-controlled
state legislature won’t be able to change the law, and she demanded the Michigan Supreme
Court last month to uphold the law and confirm that Michigan’s constitution contains the right to
have access to an abortion.
“The due process clause of the Michigan Constitution protects the right to abortion in the same
way that the United States Constitution does per Roe, and the equal protection clause prohibits
the state from adopting laws based on paternalistic justifications and overbroad generalizations about the role of women in the workforce and at home,” Whitmer wrote Monday in the New York
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has also said that he will not apply the state law that was
adopted in 1849 which makes abortion a crime with penalties of up to six years in jail and an
amount of $10,000. But, it’s possible local officials may still decide to apply the law, possibly
leading to legal protests.
Protection of those who provide or administer abortions.
Although Roe is still in effect, Republicans have generally been prudent in not penalizing people
who undergo abortions. Even the most stringent anti-abortion laws that are currently in place
such as the Texas-style “heartbeat” laws, typically are only aimed at those who conduct or assist
with abortions. They explicitly shield patients from liability. Some states have even specifically
exempted those who undergo abortions from criminal charges for homicide. However, there’s no
guarantee that it won’t happen when Roe is upheld, so Democratic legislative bodies in a variety
of states are working to provide pregnant women additional security.
6 states have passed legislation to protect those who induce abortions themselves mostly
through FDA-approved drugs. Washington, DC, already has banned the prosecution for
self-induced abortions until 2020. The state of Washington has also recently approved a law that
prevents states from making pregnancy outcomes a crime from June. Maryland Gov. Larry
Hogan, a Republican, vetoed a similar bill, and other bills similar to those from Minnesota and
Michigan will not proceed.
The criminalization of pregnancy outcomes, such as abortion, has far-reaching implications. In
the years since the Roe decision was upheld in the year 2000, more than 1200 women have
been detained and prosecuted for miscarriage stillbirth or trying to terminate their own
pregnancy. The outcomes of pregnancy have been penalized by fetal violence laws (which are
enforceable at any point for pregnant women in the 29 states) as well as the policy that
penalizes pregnant women who use drugs and legal attempts to force pregnant women to
undergo medical treatment in order to protect the fetus. The expansion of criminalization will be
disproportionately detrimental to Black and working-class women and could have effects that go
beyond the woman who is pregnant but, in many cases and especially, for their children.
Democrats have also tried to protect people who assist or perform abortions or assist in. A total
of eight states have introduced legislation to safeguard abortion clinics from assault however
Maine is the only state to have enacted this kind of law. In July, Maine will set up an eight-foot
buffer zone surrounding the entrances to health facilities, including abortion clinics. This will
prevent protesters who oppose abortion from blocking the entrance or harassing staff or
The expansion of access to abortion
In the states with the highest levels of progress, there are areas of access to abortions as a
California federal administration report revealed in December. Accelerating access to abortions
is essential as blue states take steps to become safe havens for abortion clinics outside of the
Thirteen states have already subsidized abortions via states’ Medicaid programs, as federal law
does not allow to use of federal money to fund abortions other than in the case of rape, incest,
or when the woman’s life is in danger.
This time last year Maryland has also eliminated some of the administrative hurdles to Medicaid
coverage for abortions, as well as Oregon, has allocated $15 million to local and state health
departments to provide abortion services. New York and California joined Maryland in passing
legislation that expands abortion coverage by way of private health insurance plans. However,
those laws expanding Medicaid or private insurance coverage for abortions will not help patients
outside of the state.
Certain states are also seeking to improve access to abortion education and expand the types
of medical professionals who are able to conduct abortions. In the month of June Washington
permits physician assistants to advanced-practice nurses as well as other health practitioners
who perform abortions. Maryland will also launch an education program for abortion clinics, with
$3.5 million annually in funding that will begin in July.
There are proposals pending that are pending in the four states that would expand the
availability of medication abortion the method that is used in around 50% of US abortions and
which has become more popular in the aftermath of the pandemic however none of them have
been approved yet. They could be crucial in helping abortion clinics expand their capacity in a
short time because women do not need to be required to visit an abortion clinic to receive the
pills they contain, which is a mixture of misoprostol and mifepristone and approved for up to 10
weeks during pregnancy.
But, they can’t be enough to make up for abortion facilities abruptly shutting down in half of the
US should Roe be ruled invalid.
“You have 36 million women of reproductive age who would be living in a state without abortion
access,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy expert from the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion
rights advocacy group. “And you can’t imagine that the states that are protecting abortion
access will be able to meet that need.”