Efforts underway to protect abortion rights as nation adjusts to Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade
In all, 26 states have laws that indicate they could outlaw or set extreme limits on abortions, effectively banning the procedure in those states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
Georgia already has its own restrictive law that bans abortions when a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected at about six weeks into a pregnancy. That legislation, passed and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, was suspended by a federal court in Atlanta, but is now set to take effect.
On Sunday, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is challenging Kemp in this year’s gubernatorial election, acknowledged the six-week ban will be Georgia’s “law of the land” within days.
“That is horrendous, that is appalling an it is wrong. As the next governor, I’m going to do everything in my power to reverse it,” Abrams told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
That, however, is extremely unlikely given the makeup of the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority and lack the votes to overcome the filibuster, a procedural hurdle that requires 60 members to bring such a measure to the floor for an up-or-down vote.
In the meantime, other Democrats are taking a more DIY approach to what many have described as a national health crisis. Since the ruling came down on Friday morning, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has raised an estimated $400,000 for abortion rights groups — including tens of thousands during a widely-viewed Instagram Live late on Saturday evening, a spokeswoman told CNN.
Ocasio-Cortez, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, also suggested President Biden expand access to abortion by a variety of means, including the opening of clinics on federal lands inside states that have or plan to enact bans, and to use the tools of the executive and federal agencies to help make medical abortion, through pills obtained via the mail, more easily accessible.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered a similar plan of action during an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” saying the federal government should consider every available legal path to mitigate the new bans and aid states where women are expected to travel to seek legal abortions.
Advocacy groups, meanwhile, are pressing ahead with new legal arguments within the states — in some cases digging into their own laws for potential avenues to slow or upend new restrictions.
In Utah, which is among the states that moved quickly to ban most abortions following Friday’s ruling, Planned Parenthood has already filed a lawsuit against the state’s top leaders, claiming its newly enacted law violates multiple civil liberties codified in the state’s constitution.
Performing an abortion in Utah under its ban is now a second-degree felony in nearly all cases, according to the lawsuit, which names the governor and the attorney general among the defendants. (The Utah law allows for abortion in three circumstances — where there is danger to the mother’s health, uniformly diagnosable health conditions detected in the fetus or when the mother’s pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.)
The lawsuit argues the new abortion law violates multiple rights protected under Utah’s constitution, such as the right to determine family composition and equal protection rights, among others. It also says the law has a disparate impact on women as opposed to men, and violates the right to bodily integrity, involuntary servitude, as well as the right to privacy.
“When the Act took effect, PPAU (Plaintiff Planned Parenthood Association of Utah) and its staff were forced to immediately stop performing abortions in Utah beyond those few that are permitted by the Act. If relief is granted in this case, PPAU’s health centers would resume providing abortions that would not qualify for any of the Act’s exceptions,” the lawsuit reads.
CNN has reached out to Gov. Spencer Cox’s office for comment on the lawsuit but did not receive a response Saturday. Attorney General Sean D. Reyes’ office told CNN it had no comment on the lawsuit.
“Our office is reviewing today’s decision and will be providing further information about how we intend to move forward next week,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement Friday.
Protesters arrested during demonstrations
Hundreds of people gathered Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina, in response to the ruling. At least six people were arrested at the rally, which included people protesting and supporting the ruling.
Emily Porter, 23, told CNN she was protesting the ruling when she saw police take a woman to the ground after she stepped down from a sidewalk and walked across the street.
“I felt very angry to watch them take an older woman to the ground,” Porter told CNN. “If they wanted to detain her, they could have done it in a respectful manner.”
After the woman was tackled, several people left the sidewalk to come to her aid, prompting police to detain them, Porter said.
“I’d never thought I’d be in the middle of all this,” Porter told CNN. “I was angry, I was afraid and I was confused.”
Greenville Police said neither Tasers nor pepper spray was used during the arrests and authorities would review the incident.
In the nation’s capital, police arrested two people Saturday after they were accused of “throwing paint over the fence by the U.S. Supreme Court,” US Capitol Police tweeted.
In New York City, at least 20 people were “taken into custody with charges pending,” after demonstrators marched in protest of the Supreme Court ruling, police said. No further details were provided on the arrests.
On Friday night in Phoenix, law enforcement used tear gas to disperse a crowds of protesters who were demonstrating in front of the State Senate.
Protecting reproductive rights
As some states move to restrict abortion rights, others are taking steps to better protect and expand abortion access and funding.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order Saturday providing protections for people who travel into the state for reproductive health care from states where abortion is illegal or criminalized, his office said.
“Our administration is doing everything we can to protect individuals’ right to make their own health care decisions,” he said in a statement.
Also Saturday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee promised to create a “sanctuary state” for reproductive choice for people across the country.
In doing so, Inslee announced an upcoming executive order that will direct state police not to comply with extradition efforts from other states seeking to penalize those who travel to Washington to receive an abortion. He didn’t specify when the executive order will be released and or when it will take effect.
CNN’s Sonnet Swire, Hannah Sarisohn, Sharif Paget, Claudia Dominguez, Keith Allen, Sara Smart, Kate Conerly and Andy Rose contributed to this report.
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