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Newsom, 19 Other Governors, Form Alliance to Combat Anti-Abortion Efforts

California “can’t do it alone,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in announcing the coalition of states.

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference at the reunification center in Half Moon Bay, California, on January 24, 2023.

Twenty Democratic governors launched a coalition this week with the stated goal of expanding and protecting reproductive rights, with particular emphasis on strengthening abortion access, both for in-state and out-of-state residents who may travel to them to obtain the medical procedure.

The group, Reproductive Freedom Alliance, aims to provide governors and their staff with a network of like-minded peers who will share the best available practices and strategies to defend and affirm abortion rights. That will include sharing model bills, executive actions, and other actions leaders can use to increase access and maximize federal spending for reproductive health care services, such as birth control and abortion medication.

The governors in the alliance represent around 170 million Americans. Although all signatories affirm and support the right to abortion (and other forms of reproductive-related health care), some of them face resistance from state legislatures run by anti-choice Republicans.

The effort is being led by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-California), who, along with his state’s legislature, has instituted a number of policies and new laws affirming and protecting abortion access. Both Newsom and state Democratic lawmakers are hoping to make California a safe haven for people from other states, following the dismantling of abortion rights protections by the federal Supreme Court last summer, when it ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“California has long been a leader in reproductive rights, but we can’t do it alone,” Newsom said in a statement, adding that he views the effort as a “moral obligation” he and other governors felt they had to take, to create a “firewall” to protect “fundamental rights” regarding abortion.

Other governors also weighed in on the importance of the coalition.

“Reproductive health care is health care, and I’m proud to join my fellow governors in continuing the fight to restore Roe and reproductive rights for every person in Wisconsin and across the country,” said Gov. Tony Evers (D-Wisconsin), who represents a state that currently has a near-complete abortion ban on the books.

“I am proud to join with 19 fellow governors to protect the rights of every person to a full array of reproductive health services, including abortion,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-New Mexico). “Those rights are fundamental, no matter which state you live in.”

Although polling shouldn’t be used to determine fundamental human rights, surveys taken after the dismantling of Roe have consistently found that most Americans disagree with efforts by anti-abortion lawmakers to restrict the procedure. An NPR/Ipsos poll in January, for example, found that 60 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while only 37 percent said the opposite.

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