Governors offer array of approaches to abortion fight
State governors offered an array of approaches on Sunday as to how they would govern under the new abortion landscape in a post-Roe America, with Republicans largely moving to make the procedure a felony with few to no exceptions and Democrats ensuring their states will become abortion havens for women seeking care.
The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday punted laws on abortion access back to individual states, some of which have already banned or tightened restrictions on abortions because they had trigger laws in place.
In total, 22 states across the country will ban or restrict access to abortions, according to an analysis from the Guttmacher Institute. Another 16 states and Washington, D.C., have laws in place that protect the right to an abortion.
Much of the Midwest is likely to see its abortion clinics close. In South Dakota, performing an abortion is now a felony unless it will save the life of a pregnant woman. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Gov. Kristi Noem (R) told CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan on Sunday the state will target doctors who perform illegal abortions for prosecution but not women.
Noem added that South Dakota has a bill in the pipeline that will further restrict abortion access by banning telemedicine appointments between abortion care providers and patients in order to block women from getting prescribed abortion pills that can be shipped via mail.
The GOP governor told Brennan the pills were “very dangerous medical procedures” despite being approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“We know so much more using technology and science than we did even 10, 15 years ago about what these babies go through and the pain they feel in the womb,” she said. “We’re putting resources in front of these women and walking alongside them, getting them the health care, the mental health counseling services they need.”
After Roe was overturned, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Department of Justice would move to protect women’s abortion rights and access to the pills.
Colorado has a law guaranteeing access to abortion, signed by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, setting the stage for the state to become an abortion haven.
“In Colorado, we will continue to choose freedom and we stand against government control over our bodies,” Polis said in a statement on Friday.
But states with divided political power are likely to come under the spotlight as they grapple over the future of access to abortion.
In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Sunday told Brennan that Republicans who control the state legislature are pushing to ban abortions, adding that she does not see lawmakers coming to a compromise on the issue.
Abortions are currently legal in the state because a court recently blocked a trigger law banning abortions from taking effect. But abortion access will remain legal only as long as the injunction holds, and Republicans are moving to lift it.
Whitmer, meanwhile, has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution because the landscape has become “scary” for women.
“We’re pulling out all the stops,” Whitmer told Brennan. “This is a fight-like-hell moment.”
In Georgia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams called a new six-week abortion ban that will go into effect “horrendous” and vowed to reverse it if she defeats Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in November.
“It is very, very dangerous for women in Georgia right now,” she told co-anchor Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The nation itself will become a battleground between Democratic and Republican leaders when red states move to restrict abortion access and blue states offer themselves up as abortion havens for out-of-state women.
Arkansas has some of the tightest restrictions in the nation. Abortions are illegal in all cases except to save the life of a woman. Performing an abortion is a felony with a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The state’s governor, Asa Hutchinson (R), on Sunday told NBC “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd he was protecting the rights of the unborn, which he saw as allowing him to exercise state power to intervene.
“You use the power of the state to say, ‘Unless the health of the mother is at risk, let’s carry that child to term,'” the governor said. “When you’re saving life, that’s an appropriate role of the state.”