Some States Are Strengthening Abortion Access and Protections for Clinicians and Out-of-State Residents Seeking Abortions

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, the landmark decision that established the right to abortion, then individual states can regulate abortion without any federal requirement to protect abortion access. While about half of the states in the U.S. will move to either ban or highly restrict abortion access for their residents, there is growing momentum in a handful of states to not only protect abortion access for their state residents, but also to expand access to people who live in states that ban or restrict abortion. A new KFF brief takes a closer look at the policies and laws states have enacted to protect abortion access.

Actions states have taken range from clarifying and strengthening their long-standing protections for abortion rights to enacting policies that seek to assure affordable access to abortion services and to protect clinicians in their states from criminal charges and civil liability if they perform abortions.

Some states, like California, Maryland, Washington, and Delaware, are finding ways to expand the pool of clinicians qualified to provide an abortion. In New Jersey, the governor signed a statutory protection for abortion. Connecticut has enacted legislation to protect clinicians who provide abortion care from out of state civil and criminal penalties. Maryland and California recently passed laws requiring most insurance providers to cover the cost of an abortion, with no cost-sharing.

While these approaches may improve access to abortions for some, many people living in states with an abortion ban, particularly those that are low-income, will experience access challenges and may not be able to get to a neighboring state to obtain an abortion, regardless of increased protections and availability offered by neighboring states.

For more information on abortion, including a new Policy Watch on employer coverage of travel costs for out-of-state abortions, visit the KFF Women’s Health page.

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