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.
“California, Oregon and Washington are building the West Coast offense to protect patients’ access to reproductive care,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a video statement just hours after the high court decision.
Newsom announced the states’ plans along 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.
Newsom signed into law a bill intended to shield abortion providers and volunteers in California from legal decisions in other states that limit reproductive rights, part of a package of more than a dozen bills intended to make California a sanctuary for those seeking abortions.
“To push back against those Republicans, state legislators and governors, that seek to move forward with civil actions against people who travel to the state of California seeking their reproductive rights and reproductive freedoms,” he said.
Of the states with legal protections, more than 50 million people live in California, Oregon and Washington, accounting for about 1/6 of the total U.S. population.
Inslee said he will push for a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights within his state’s borders, as well as laws that will make it difficult for other states to investigate whether their own residents have visited Washington for abortion care.
“The right to this choice, this constitutional choice for the last five decades, should not depend on which party is in control of our state Legislature,” said Inslee, a Democrat.
“I feel proud to live in Washington because I believe that we’re going to be a state that makes space for people, for women to come here,” Seattle resident Christy Korrow said.
Within the newly-declared West Coast sanctuary, there is growing anger over the Supreme Court’s decision.
The night brought some violent clashes in downtown L.A., as seen in a local L.A. reporter’s social media posts, with police making dozens of arrests.
But amid the widespread support to welcome abortion seekers to the West, those who oppose abortion are now campaigning against a proposed amendment explicitly protecting reproductive rights in California.
“In November, Gavin Newsom has already said he’s going to put it on the ballot for the citizens of California to vote abortion rights into our constitution,” said James Cook, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church. “So it’s a very short term for California.”
A vote by California lawmakers on placing that protection on the November ballot is expected on Monday.
Legislation with similar abortion access protections are also in the works in Oregon and Washington.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.