Pro-abortion activists are determined that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision will not signal the end of abortion in America. Abortion proponents at almost all levels of government responded almost instantly to the decision — or even anticipated it — with strategies to promote abortion through means that don’t rely on federal courts. Here are 10 ways the Left is seeking to expand abortion.
- State Legislatures
In California, legislators are working to expand abortion in the state, including a bill, which Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law on Friday, to nullify the abortion laws of other states in California. The bill, AB 1666, would “prohibit the application of that law to a case or controversy heard in state court, and would prohibit the enforcement or satisfaction of a civil judgment received under that law.”
On Monday, the California state legislature passed “a constitutional amendment to make explicit the fundamental constitutional right to abortion and contraceptives.” It cleared the required two-thirds majority in both chambers — 29-7 in the state senate, and 58-16 in the state assembly — to be placed on the ballot for voters’ approval in the November election.
- State and Local Officials
In states where laws and legislatures protect the lives of unborn babies, pro-abortion governors and attorneys general have called for the repeal of those laws or refused to enforce them.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) called the legislature into a special session on Wednesday, June 22, two days before the decision was released, to repeal an 1849 law criminalizing abortion which remains on the books. The legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, gaveled in and out of session without holding a vote.
On Thursday, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) said, “I’m committed with the Wisconsin Department of Justice to not to use any of our resources, either to investigate or prosecute anybody for violations of a 19th century abortion ban.”
In states where abortion is legal, governors and attorneys general have actively promoted abortion.
California Governor Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D), and Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) on Friday signed an 8-point “commitment” to “defend access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion and contraceptives.” They committed to not cooperate with pro-life states, including “judicial and local law enforcement cooperation,” criminal prosecution, the use of medical records, and insurance actions. They also committed to protect abortionists, “promote great access to abortion care services,” and “defend against false and misleading reproductive healthcare services” — which in the past has meant illegally suppressing the free speech of pregnancy centers, for which the Supreme Court reproved California in NIFLA v. Becerra (2018).
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul (D) released an online resource titled “Know Your Reproductive Rights,” and “issued a letter to law enforcement to clarify that Illinois law does not criminalize abortion.
Local officials have also gotten involved. Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval (D) said Monday he would work to expand coverage for elective abortions for the city’s health plan and expand the city’s travel reimbursement policy to reimburse city employees who travel more than 150 miles to obtain an abortion.
- State Lawsuits
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against three Louisiana “trigger” laws, previously enacted with a view to prohibiting abortion if Roe was overturned. Judge Robin M. Giarrusso, of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, temporarily blocked the law from taking effect until July 8.
Planned Parenthood of Utah filed a lawsuit against that state’s trigger law. Judge Andrew Stone, of Utah’s Third District, also issued a temporary restraining order until July 11. Both judges are part of their state’s court system and do not have federal jurisdiction.
- Expanding the Court/Abolishing the Filibuster
Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) responded to the Dobbs decision by calling for the expansion of the Supreme Court. “Congress must do its part and respond to these affronts to reproductive freedom by passing the Women’s Health and Protection Act and codifying Roe into law — even if we must abolish the filibuster to do so,” he said. “We must act now and expand the Supreme Court to bring balance to the bench and restore its legitimacy in the eyes of the American people.”
Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) are among those who have called for abolishing the filibuster in response to Dobbs.
- Federal Legislation
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced to colleagues on Monday that “our pro-choice House Democratic Majority … has been exploring avenues” to enshrine abortion in federal law. “Among them is legislation that:
- Protect women’s most intimate and personal data stored in reproductive health apps. …
- Makes clear that Americans have the constitutional right to travel freely and voluntarily throughout the United States.
- Once again passes the Women’s Health Protection Act: landmark legislation to enshrine Roe v. Wade into the law of the land.”
The first bullet could be used for “protecting [the] Planned Parenthood app from oversight if they use it to prescribe abortion pills,” said Travis Weber, FRC’s Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs. The second would endorse women travelling across state lines to obtain an abortion. And the third, which Pelosi said would “enshrine Roe v. Wade into the law,” would re-introduce a bill which narrowly passed the House (218-211) in September but failed in the Senate.
Pelosi added that “Democrats must continue our fight” for abortion because “doing so is foundational to our oath of office and our fidelity to the Constitution.”
- Executive Action
Before the Dobbs decision was released, 25 Democratic senators signed a June 7 letter led by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) encouraging President Biden to consider novel ways to promote abortion through executive action. They suggested “increasing access to medication abortions,” — that is, loosening restrictions on, advertising for, and otherwise promoting chemical abortion pills. They suggested “establishing a reproductive health ombudsman at the Department of Health and Humans [sic] Services (HHS),” essentially a new person or office dedicated to promoting abortion information. They suggested “more aggressively enforcing federal requirements” that Medicaid beneficiaries receive “free choice of provider.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus followed up with a June 23 letter urging President Biden to “use every tool at your disposal to protect fundamental reproductive rights and abortion access across this country — including by declaring a public health and national emergency.”
- Federal Lands
The Warren letter also recommended that the Biden administration work towards providing abortions on federal property. AOC called it “the babiest of the babiest of the baby steps” to “open abortion clinics on federal lands in red states right now.” Such a move would likely require the cooperation of Congress to allocate funding that leaves out the Hyde amendment for construction and staff.
- Federal Funds
Other proposals in the Warren letter proposed federal subsidies for abortion. It suggested the administration could provide “all federal employees” with “paid time off and reimbursement for expenses necessary to access abortion,” and that they could “provide vouchers for travel, child care services, and other forms of support for individuals seeking to access abortion care that is unavailable in their home state.” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Vice President Kamala Harris both said the administration was “looking” at the possibility.
- Pro-Abortion Violence
Since the Dobbs decision was released, violence and threats have been targeted at the Supreme Court justices who signed the majority opinion, state legislatures, and pregnancy resource centers.
Since Dobbs, pregnancy resource centers have been the targets of vandalism or arson in Longmont, Colo., Lynchburg, Va., and Paso Robles, Calif. Catholic churches were attacked in Houston, Texas, Philadelphia, Penn., Reston, Va., and Raleigh, W.Va. In Portland, Ore., pro-abortion activists mistakenly targeted a center they believed was pro-life, but which was actually pro-abortion, and in Eugene, Ore., a mob of 75 people gathered to attack police stationed to defend a pregnancy resource center.
On June 24, the night after the Dobbs decision was released, pro-abortion protestors attempted to breach the Arizona state Senate. “What began as a peaceful protest evolved into anarchical and criminal actions by masses of splinter groups. As groups realized the state legislature was in session, they attempted to breach the doors of the Arizona Senate and force their way into the building,” said Arizona Department of Public Safety DPS. “The violence of their efforts literally shook the building and terrified citizens and lawmakers who occupied the building. As the glass doors bowed from attempts of forced entry, the occupants of the building were instructed to move to secure locations.” The chamber went into recess at 11:49 p.m. because of “a security problem outside,” as they were in the middle of votes.
“The six justices who overturned Roe should never know peace again. It is our civic duty to accost them every time they are in public,” tweeted one leftist.
By overruling Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court returned control of abortion policy in America to the political process. President Biden acknowledged this on Friday when he said, “This fall, Roe is on the ballot.”
House Speaker Pelosi also recognized the importance of elections to the future of protecting unborn life in America. “It is clear from how Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell stacked the Supreme Court that elections have ramifications,” she said. “It is essential that we protect and expand our pro-choice Majorities in the House and Senate in November so that we can eliminate the filibuster so that we can restore women’s fundamental rights — and freedom for every American.”
Many of the state legislators, state officials, and local officials who now play an enlarged role in setting abortion policy will also be on the ballot in November.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand, contributing both news and commentary from a biblical worldview.