Democratic-Run States Plan Expansion Of Abortion Access

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  • Lawmakers in eight states have filed legislation hoping to bolster abortion protections in their states for the upcoming year.
  • A total of four states are either attempting or have succeeded in passing constitutional amendments protecting the “right” to abortion, while other states have taken a more measured approach.
  • “We made progress last year, but we need to do these things to protect providers and patients,” one Maryland representative said. “We didn’t ask for this. The Supreme Court did this to us, so we need to do these things.”

Lawmakers in eight states have worked overtime to advance legislation for the upcoming year that would protect the right to abortion in their state since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe in June, many states began banning abortion while others aimed to protect the practice as a fundamental right. In 2023, eight states have pro-abortion legislation filed to codify the procedure on the state level. (RELATED: Democratic Senators Look To Spend $1.75 Billion Subsidizing Abortion Travel)

Maryland Democrats are looking to pass a constitutional amendment in the 2023 legislative session that failed to pass the state’s senate in 2022, according to The Daily Record. Maryland House Del. Ariana Kelly, who is also the vice chair of the House Health and Government Operations Committee, explained that she feels the amendment will have a different outcome than previous attempts, according to The Daily Record.

“We made progress last year, but we need to do these things to protect providers and patients,” Kelly said. “We didn’t ask for this. The Supreme Court did this to us, so we need to do these things.”

Maryland’s amendment is not the only attempt to codify abortion in recent months. Washington, Michigan, and Texas lawmakers have proposed amendments following the Dobbs decision.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced in a press conference in October that he had been working with the state legislature to create a constitutional amendment that would be presented in 2023 along with a bill that would prevent other states from charging individuals who obtained an abortion in Washington, according to The Trail.

“Washington is a pro-choice state and we intend to make it a constitutional amendment so that Washington will always be a pro-choice state,” Inslee stated during the conference.

Texas state Rep. James Talarico filed a joint resolution that, if passed, would prohibit the state from creating further abortion restrictions. Talarico’s resolution must pass through the legislature and then would be presented to Texas voters in 2023, according to The Texas Tribune.

“It takes the authority out of our hands and gives it directly to the people that we serve and represent, and I’m hoping that that idea will start to gain traction amongst all my colleagues in this building,” Talarico stated.

DETROIT, MI - JUNE 24: An abortion rights demonstrator bows their head as people protest the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case on June 24, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

DETROIT, MI – JUNE 24: An abortion rights demonstrator bows their head as people protest the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case on June 24, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

In Michigan, an amendment is set to take effect on Dec. 23 enshrining abortion into the state’s constitution. Michigan lawmakers are currently setting their sights on repealing the 1931 abortion ban that would charge doctors who provide abortions with a felony and up to a $5,000 fine, according to Bridge Michigan.

The amendment prohibits abortions after detectable viability determined by the attending “medical professional.” Viability is defined as a newborn’s ability to survive outside the womb on its own without “extraordinary medical measures,” according to Bridge Michigan.

While some states see constitutional amendments as the solution, many lawmakers are aware of the difficulty to pass an amendment and have opted for more specific legislative goals.

New Mexico state Sen. Linda Lopez is currently working on a bill that would codify the right to “legal, safe and accessible” abortions and protect those who come across state lines. Lopez also authored a 2021 bill that ended New Mexico’s previous law that made it a crime to perform an abortion, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Tennessee currently has an abortion ban on the books, but some are looking to create exceptions to the bill. House Rep. Yousuf Hakeem filed a bill last week that would create exceptions to the state’s abortion ban in cases of rape, incest, and medical emergencies, according to Hendersonville Standard.

Hakeem’s Executive Assistant Makayla Martin told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the bill doesn’t change the punishment for abortions outside of the scope of the bill.

“An abortion where the patient is out of a medical necessary [situation], or the patient hasn’t been raped, or a child that hasn’t been raped, or incest, or they [were] in dire need of medical assistance, the doctor can still be potentially charged for a criminal abortion,” Martin said.

A similar bill was recently proposed in Missouri. Sen. Greg Razor announced last week that he had filed a bill designating ectopic pregnancies as a medical emergency that can be treated with an abortion under state law. Current Missouri law only allows abortions in the case of a medical emergency, according to 41 KSHB.

Razor alleged in his announcement that women have also been denied birth control as a result of Missouri’s law and stated that his bill would protect access to contraceptives in addition to the medical emergency provision. The Attorney General’s office released a statement in June clarifying that the law “does not prohibit the use or provision of Plan B, or contraception,” according to 41 KSHB.

Lawmakers in Georgia went a different route and proposed a bill requiring the state to compensate mothers for the cost of taking care of a child due to being unable to obtain an abortion. Georgia’s law does not allow for abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting News.

Kelly, Inslee, Talarico, Lopez, Hakeem, and Razor did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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