States move to shield abortion from prosecutions elsewhere

PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — Democratic governors in states where abortion will remain legal are seeking ways to protect patients who travel there for the procedure, along with the providers who help them, from prosecution by their states. originally.

In North Carolina, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order Wednesday to protect abortion providers and patients from extradition to states that have banned the practice. Abortions are legal in North Carolina until the fetus is viable or in certain medical emergencies, making the state an outlier in the Southeast.

“This order will help protect North Carolina doctors and nurses and their patients from cruel right-wing criminal laws passed by other states,” Cooper said in announcing the order.

The governors of Rhode Island and Maine signed executive orders Tuesday night, stating they will not cooperate with other states’ investigations into people seeking abortions or health care providers who perform them.

Democratic Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee said women should be trusted with their own health care decisions, and Democratic Lt. Governor Sabina Matos said Rhode Island must do everything it can to protect women’s access to care. reproductive health, since “other states attack the fundamental right to choose.”

maine democrat Governor Janet Mills said she will “stand in the way of any effort to undermine, roll back, or completely eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Maine.”

Their offices confirmed Wednesday that they are preventive and protective measures, and that neither state has received a request to investigate, prosecute or extradite a provider or patient.

His attempts to protect abortion rights come as stricter restrictions and bans go into effect in conservative states after last month’s declaration. Dobbs v. Jackson at the US Supreme Court, that overturned the nearly half-century decision of Roe v. Wade that determined that the right to abortion was protected by the United States Constitution. The problem returns to the states, many of whom have taken steps to reduce or ban abortions.

The specific fears of Democratic officials are rooted in a Texas law passed last year to ban abortions after fetal heart activity can be detected. The law allows anyone who is not a government official or employee to sue anyone who performs an abortion or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets” obtaining one.

The person filing the claim would be entitled to $10,000 for each abortion the subject was involved in, plus legal costs.

The US Supreme Court has so far refused to hear challenges to the Texas law.

Bernadette Meyler, a professor at Stanford Law School, said it’s unclear whether lawsuits against out-of-state abortion providers will hold up in court, especially if they don’t advertise their services in states with bans.

But he also said it’s not clear that liberal states have a strong legal basis to protect their residents from any out-of-state litigation.

“They probably assume that some of the laws they are passing will not be enforced or may not be enforced, and they are trying to do everything they can to resist the effects of the Dobbs decision. Mayler said.

However, resistance to cooperating with abortion-related investigations could remain, he said. Places that declared themselves “sanctuary cities” and refused to cooperate with federal immigration investigations during former President Donald Trump’s presidency were able to carry out similar policies.

Connecticut was the first state to pass a law to protect abortion providers, patients, and others from legal action brought by other states. Democratic Governor Ned Lamont signed it in May, before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“In accordance with Connecticut law, we will resist any attempt by another state to criminalize or meddle in a woman’s private and legal health decisions,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement last week.

Democratic governors of MinnesotaNew Mexico, Snowfall, California and Washington and the moderate Republican governor in liberal Massachusetts signed executive orders within days of the ruling to prohibit cooperation with other states that might interfere with abortion access.

“Residents seeking access will be protected, providers will be protected, and abortion is and will remain legal, safe and accessible, period.” New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham saidwho has described the order as a preventive measure.

One of the largest providers of abortion services in Texas announced Wednesday that it plans to move its operations to the New Mexico border. Whole Woman’s Health announced Wednesday that it is seeking to establish a new clinic in a New Mexico town near the state line to provide first- and second-trimester abortions.

The Democratic-controlled Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill which is intended to protect abortion providers and people seeking abortions from actions taken by other states. Democratic governor of Delaware signed legislation expand access to abortion, with various legal protections for abortion providers and patients, including out-of-state residents who receive abortions in Delaware.

Democratic Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy signed two bills into law on Friday that moved quickly in the Democratic-led Legislature after the ruling. The new laws are intended to protect the right of people from outside the state to obtain abortion services within its borders and prohibit the extradition of people involved in reproductive health services if they face charges in another state.

Murphy said he was “overwhelmingly angry” about having to sign the bills, but equally proud to do so.

“These laws will make New Jersey a beacon of freedom for all American women,” she said during a signing ceremony in Jersey City, not far from the Statue of Liberty.

In Washington state, the governor prohibited the state patrol from cooperating with out-of-state abortion investigations or prosecutions, but noted that it had no jurisdiction over local law enforcement agencies. The county executive surrounding Seattle said Tuesday that the sheriff’s office and other executive branch departments will not cooperate with prosecutions of out-of-state abortion providers or patients.

Some progressive prosecutors in the US have already declared that they will not enforce some of the most restrictive and punitive anti-abortion laws.

In New Orleans, city councilors introduced a resolution calling on local police and prosecutors to make abortion investigations and prosecutions “the lowest priority for enforcement.” City Council members in Austin, Texas, another liberal city in a conservative state, have called for a similar policy.


Hannah Schoenbaum is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues. Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Schoenbaum reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press writers Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina; Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine.


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