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California, Minnesota move to protect women's rights after Supreme Court decision

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California, Minnesota move to protect women's rights after Supreme Court decision
Pro-choice advocates take part in a protest as they march to City Hall after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending federal abortion protection and making abortion regulation an issue decided by individual states at the U.S. Supreme Court, in Los Angeles on Friday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 25 (UPI) -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order Saturday protecting women's rights in the wake of the Supreme Court's jaw-dropping decision to overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling constitutionally protecting the right to seek an abortion.

Abortion will remain legal in Minnesota but neighboring states have already moved to make it illegal including South Dakota -- which instituted a "trigger ban" that went into effect automatically with the Supreme Court decision.

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Walz said in the order that he will decline to extradite people accused of violating such laws criminalizing abortions.

The order also requires law enforcement agencies in the state not to assist other states in seeking civil, criminal or professional sanctions against those who provide or seek reproductive health care services in Minnesota "even when required to do so by law."

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"My office has been and will continue to be a firewall against legislation that would reverse reproductive freedom," Walz said in a statement.

"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."

His decision came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed legislation that would help protect patients and providers in California from anti-abortion laws in other states.

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The California law will protect people in the state from civil liability for providing, aiding or receiving abortion care in the state as others like Missouri advance proposals to allow citizens to sue Missouri residents who obtain or facilitate abortions in other states.

"With today's Supreme Court decision to endanger the health and safety of millions of women across the country, California must do everything it can to protect the fundamental rights of all women -- in California and beyond," Newsom said.

"We know that states like Missouri are already targeting women seeking abortions in states like California where abortion remains legal. This legislation seeks to protect women and care providers from civil liability imposed by other states."

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Oregon and Washington on Friday joined California in issuing a multi-state commitment to defend access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during a press gaggle on Saturday that President Joe Biden announced two "concrete steps" his administration was taking using his executive authority to protect women in the wake of the decision.

Jean-Pierre reiterated that those steps included having the United States Department of Health and Human Services ensure that there are medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration available to women "to protect that right."

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"The other one was he gave his executive authority to the Department of Justice to make sure that we defend women who travel to -- as they make decisions on their own healthcare," Jean-Pierre said.

Jean-Pierre was asked about what the Biden administration would be doing to protect women who cross state lines with such abortion medication, which is now a crime punishable in some states.

"So, you know, state laws restricting the right to travel will undoubtedly be challenged -- right? -- in court. So, the DOJ will look to support the right to travel in appropriate cases," she said.

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"Look, the Attorney General's statement yesterday made it clear that the bedrock of constitutional principles support women's freedom to seek care in states where abortion remains legal."

Jean-Pierre added the Justice Department would defend women in cases "where they can."

"This is a scary time. We understand that. What happened yesterday with the decision from the Supreme Court is extreme. That decision is extreme," she said. "This is about a constitutional right that was provided by the Supreme Court almost 50 years ago."

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a separate concurring opinion with the majority opinion, which was written by Justice Samuel Alito, that the Supreme Court should next consider going after contraceptives and rights for LGBTQ people.

Jean-Pierre called his comments "chilling" but said it was "an opportunity to take action" and encouraged American voters to elect more Democrats while shooting down suggestions that Biden expand top court.

"That is something that the President does not agree with. That is not something that he wants to do," she said.

Jean-Pierre said that no executive action that Biden could take could fill the hole in the law caused by the Supreme Court decision and that the only meaningful action would be for the U.S. Congress to enshrine Roe vs. Wade in federal law.

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When asked about the possibility of building abortion clinics on federal land in conservative states, Jean-Pierre said that didn't "have anything to share on that specific question."

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