West Coast Govs Stand United Against Anti-Abortion Tyranny
Elected officials in what remains of American democracy are actively resisting our Robed Masters. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday, the Democratic governors of California, Washington and Oregon launched a “West Coast Offense” to protect reproductive freedom.
Abortion remains legal (for now) in states with Democratic governors (who aren’t Jon Bel Edwards) and legislatures. However, the "West Coast Offense” openly provides a refuge for people who live in Republican-controlled terror states.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the plan in a joint video statement Friday.
Brown said plainly: "Abortion is healthcare, and no matter who you are or where you come from, Oregon doesn’t turn away anyone seeking healthcare."
It’s expected that people will flock to California, Oregon, and Washington seeking legal abortions. Many will come from conservative states within driving distance, but the "West Coast Offense" will provide a safe harbor for the whole nation. Abortion was immediately banned or trigger laws will shortly go into effect in Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.
The "West Coast Offense" will expand abortion access in anticipation of increased demand from out-of-state residents who want to control their own bodies. Most importantly, the governors pledged to “protect against judicial and local law enforcement cooperation with out-of-state investigations, inquiries and arrests” regarding abortions performed in their states. They say they’ll outright "[r]efuse non-fugitive extradition of individuals for criminal prosecution" related to accessing legal reproductive healthcare.
Yes, fugitive uterus laws might actually encourage private citizens to hunt down people seeking abortions like white nationalist Boba Fetts. Brown makes clear Oregon "will resist intrusions by out-of-state prosecutors, law enforcement, or vigilantes trying to investigate patients trying to receive services in our states ... We will not stand on the sidelines.”
During a press conference Saturday, Inslee announced he’s pushing for a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in Washington. As we’ve seen in Virginia, where GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed a 15-week abortion ban,Democratic trifectas aren’t forever. Inslee wants to make it harder for a future Republican legislature to rob residents of their reproductive freedom.
INSLEE: 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.
Inslee will also work with legislators to strengthen privacy laws and pass new laws preventing Washington law enforcement from aiding any Republican-run state’s investigation into alleged violations of their horrific anti-abortion laws. Washington will also zealously protect people’s privacy data. Inslee envisions Washington as a “sanctuary of choice” for abortion rights.
Friday, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1666, which will shield people who have abortions, as well as the healthcare professionals who provide them. The measure is a direct response to GOP lawmakers in Missouri advancing an obscene proposal allowing random citizens to sue Missouri residents who have an abortion out of state, as well as anyone who assists them.
California healthcare clinics will receive tens of millions of dollars in grants that they can use to fund abortions for out-of-state residents. The grants are part of Newsom’s proposed $125 million Reproductive Health Package, which will expand abortion access and help prepare for the flood of reproductive health refugees seeking care in a state that still resembles America.
California Democrats are also moving to amend the state constitution to explicitly prevent future legislatures from banning or otherwise interfering with abortions or contraceptives. Oregon is one of the most pro-abortion rights states in the nation, thanks to the Reproductive Health Equity Act of 2017. However, state Democrats are looking for possible loopholes in abortion laws that out-of-state fascists might exploit. Oregon state Rep. Travis Nelson, a Portland-area nurse, expressed long-term concerns about not-implausible worst-case scenarios:
"If we end up someday getting a United States government in which the president is Republican, the House is Republican and the Senate is Republican, we could be looking at national legislation that makes abortion illegal, which would possibly make all the work that we’ve done in Oregon moot.”
Ideally, Americans who value their freedom would never entrust Republicans with unified power, but the reality is that we should everything we can to protect reproductive rights in the states that respect them.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."