New York, which last week passed a controversial law loosening the rules on abortion, is just the latest state to do so, as advocates say they fear the newly cemented U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade.
New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington have either passed new laws expanding abortion access or are moving toward stripping old laws from the books that limit abortions.
Steven H. Aden, chief legal officer and general counsel of Americans United for Life, a pro-life group based in Virginia, told the Catholic News Agency this shift is because both sides realize “there is no constitutional right to abortion.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a reference to the Trump administration and the new Supreme Court makeup in his comments last week after signing the “Reproductive Healthcare Act,” which allows abortions for any reason up to 24 weeks, and up to birth to protect a woman’s life or health as determined by a healthcare professional. The law also allows non-doctors to perform the procedure.
“We are sending a clear message that whatever happens in Washington, women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body,” Cuomo said.
Rhode Island introduced a bill of the same name that would lift abortion restrictions on the books, including one that requires a husband’s notification.
And with a Louisiana abortion clinic challenging a state law, in a case similar to a 2016 Texas law, abortion advocates worry the case will land in the high court and put an end to Roe v. Wade, especially with Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh now on the bench. Both are Trump appointees.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the largest abortion provider in the nation, expects over half the states to push for policies protecting and expanding abortion or expanding birth-control access as the Trump administration tries to curtail both.
Either way, states are preparing — just in case.
New Mexico is moving to repeal a 50-year-old abortion law that makes it a crime for an abortion provider to terminate a woman’s pregnancy but is unenforceable due to Roe v. Wade.
If Roe v. Wade were overturned, 16 states could take steps to ban abortion. Four have laws that would trigger bans, while 12 others have anti-abortion laws on the books that have been ruled unconstitutional by courts or have not been enforced due to the 1973 Supreme Court decision, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research organization.
Opposition to the Trump administration’s pro-life policies has galvanized pro-choice activists. After New York passed its law, pro-life supporters have seen a new wave of support in other states.
But each state is different and must decide for itself what to do with a possible decision in the near future.