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Democratic governors launch alliance to protect abortion access

20 governors led by Gavin Newsom of California formed the Reproductive Freedom Alliance to allow members to share model legislation and potential executive orders.
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Sacramento, Calif.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference in Sacramento on Feb. 1.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

Twenty Democratic governors formed an alliance Tuesday to defend abortion access after the Supreme Court's June ruling overturning the right to abortion gave states broad regulatory authority over the issue.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom led the Reproductive Freedom Alliance, which will allow members to share model legislation and potential executive orders, a spokesperson for the group said. Forty-four states have placed some restrictions on or outright banned abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for abortion access.

“In the face of this unprecedented assault by states hostile to abortion rights and their enablers in the courts, we are pledging to work together to strengthen abortion firewalls across America," the governors said in a joint statement. "This fight isn’t over."

The governors said medication abortion has become a new battleground for groups aiming to restrict abortion access. A lawsuit filed in Texas by the anti-abortion group Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine seeks to repeal the Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone, a pill used in a two-drug medication abortion regimen.

State leaders have taken sides ahead of the ruling. A coalition of Democratic attorneys general argued in a brief this month that rescinding the FDA's approval of mifepristone would have "devastating consequences" for women across the country. The same day, a group of Republican attorneys general filed a brief claiming the FDA's initial approval of abortion pills was "deeply flawed."

The Texas judge's decision could have broad implications for access to medication abortion, which accounts for more than half of all abortions nationwide, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

In their statement, the governors warned that medication abortion "may be stripped" from clinics and hospitals nationwide. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision had already resulted in confusion and a "patchwork" of laws across the U.S.

Although the alliance billed itself as nonpartisan, it includes only Democratic lawmakers. Several members, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, head up states that have maintained abortion access in regions that have otherwise restricted it.

Funding for the alliance comes from the California Wellness Foundation and the Rosenberg Foundation, nonprofit groups that often fund public health efforts.