Democrats vow to help women who must travel for abortions

  • Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington Friday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Democratic leaders across the nation vowed Friday to help women who travel to seek abortions and to shield patients and medical professionals from being pursued by authorities in states where the procedure becomes outlawed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

On the West Coast, the Democratic governors of California, Washington and Oregon issued a joint “multi-state commitment,” saying they will work together to defend patients and care providers.

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In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, emphasized the importance of the November election in the state where the GOP controls the General Assembly but lacks veto-proof majorities to severely restrict or outlaw abortion.

“Democratic governors are the last line of defense against these types of extreme bills,” he said.

It was a strategy echoed by President Joe Biden, who told the nation Friday that Democratic victories at the state level in November could thwart efforts to ban abortion.

“Congress must act, and with your vote, you can act,” Biden said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the West Coast plan in a video statement with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

“No matter who you are or where you come from, Oregon doesn’t turn away anyone seeking health care,” Brown said.

All three states anticipate an influx of people seeking abortions, especially as neighboring conservative states move to outlaw or greatly restrict the procedure.

The governors also pledged to “protect against judicial and local law enforcement cooperation with out-of-state investigations, inquiries and arrests” regarding abortions performed in their states.

Elsewhere, some companies reiterated or announced plans to help pay for employees to travel to other states to get reproductive care.

For example, Seattle-based Starbucks said it will reimburse abortion travel expenses for employees enrolled in its health care plan if a legal provider isn’t available in their home state or within 100 miles of their home.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson also said he will work to ensure his state “welcomes any individual who comes here to access the fundamental right to reproductive justice,” adding that he is “already working to protect medical professionals who are prosecuted in other states for providing essential health care services that are legal and protected in Washington.”

Ferguson says he has a team of 20 staffers working on abortion-access issues.

In Sacramento, California, Newsom warned that conservative Supreme Court justices and Republican politicians “are coming after you” on issues beyond the abortion decision and another ruling this week that said Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.

Conservative leaders have telegraphed their intent to roll back laws and legal decisions on LGBTQ rights, on contraception, the environment and in other areas, Newsom said.

“This is not just about women. This is not just about choice. It’s not just about reproductive freedom — they’re coming after you,” he said.

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