Jun 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Massachusetts, Minnesota become safe havens for abortion

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (L) and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R).
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (left) and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Photos: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images; Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The governors of Massachusetts and Minnesota issued executive orders to protect abortion providers and patients from bans in other states in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: With Roe overturned and states now able to ban or permit the procedure at any point, it's possible that lawmakers in Republican-led states may seek to prosecute women who cross state lines to seek an abortion or charge providers in other states, according to the New York Times.

  • No state legislature is currently considering laws that would allow them to do so, though legal experts interviewed by the Times warned that some may try.

The executive orders from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) give the governors of their states the power to deny any extradition request from other states pursuing criminal charges against people who either received, assisted or performed reproductive health services that are legal in their states.

  • The orders also prevent state agencies unless they are required by a court to do so from assisting other states that are attempting to seek civil, criminal or professional sanctions against people who provide, seek or receive health care services, including abortions, that are legal in Minnesota and Massachusetts.

What they're saying: "This executive order will further preserve that right and protect reproductive health care providers who serve out of state residents," Baker, a moderate Republican who is retiring at the end of this year, said in a statement Friday.

  • “I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the Supreme Court which will have major consequences for women across the country who live in states with limited access to reproductive health care services," Baker added.
  • “My office has been and will continue to be a firewall against legislation that would reverse reproductive freedom,” Walz said in a statement Saturday.
  • “This order shows our administration’s commitment to protecting patients and health care providers. Our administration is doing everything we can to protect individuals’ right to make their own health care decisions," Walz added.

The big picture: Minnesota abortion providers are expected to see a surge in out-of-state patients, as the state is surrounded by other states that have either already banned most abortions, will likely ban abortions or will further restrict access to abortions, Axios' Torey Van Oot reports.

  • Currently, seven states have made most abortions illegal, but more state bans are coming.
  • Meanwhile, other states have issued executive orders or have passed laws similar to Walz's and Baker's orders, including California, Washington and Oregon, Axios' Shawna Chen reports.
  • Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in his concurring opinion with the court's decision Friday, said he believes that the constitutional right to interstate travel will protect a person who crosses state lines to get an abortion.

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