North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Wednesday protecting access to abortion in the state. Photo courtesy of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper/Facebook
July 7 (UPI) -- The Democratic governors of North Carolina and Colorado have signed executive orders to strengthen access to abortion and reproductive health services in their states in the wake of the Supreme Court repealing federal protections for the medical procedure.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed his executive order during a press conference Wednesday while in the company of Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Alexis McGill Johnson and other North Carolina reproductive care advocates.
The order directs Cabinet agencies to coordinate to protect reproductive healthcare services in the state while directing the Department of Public Safety to work with police to ensure enforcement of laws that prohibit anyone from blocking access to healthcare.
It also prohibits Cabinet agencies from cooperating with investigations initiated by other states into anyone obtaining reproductive healthcare in North Carolina as well as prohibiting those agencies from sending pregnant state employees for work to states that have placed restrictions on healthcare, including abortion bans.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' executive order, also signed Wednesday, protects those who provide abortion from legal liability and sanctions as well as prohibits state agencies from participating in any form in criminal or civil investigations initiated by states with abortion bans into patients seeking services in Colorado.
"We are taking needed action to protect and defend individual freedom and protect the privacy of Coloradans," Polis said in a statement. "This important step will ensure that Colorado's thriving economy and workforce are not impacted based on personal health decisions that are wrongly being criminalized in other states."
The executive orders are in response to the Supreme Court late last month overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that protected access to abortion nationwide.
Since the ruling was overturned, several Republican-led states have moved to put in place abortion bans, many of which have been met with litigation by women's rights and abortion advocates seeking to keep access open.
"The Supreme Court ripped away the constitutional right to reproductive freedom that women have relied on for five decades. For now, it's up to the states to determine whether women get reproductive healthcare, and in North Caroling they still can," he said. "I am determined to keep it that way."
Cooper has vowed to protect abortion in his state and last year vetoed a Republican bill to ban abortions due to the supposed reasons for it.
Jenny Black, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic, warned that while abortion is still legal in North Carolina, access to the procedure is hanging by a thread as Cooper's veto power could be nixed if Republicans gain a supermajority in the state's Congress.
"Our objective is clear: to keep abortion legal in the state, North Carolinians must elect candidates who will protect access to sexual and reproductive healthcare at the state level," she said. "The future of abortion access not only for North Carolinians but potentially the entire Southeast region is on the line in 2022."
According to the governor's office, North Carolina has already experienced an influx of abortion patients from states that have implemented abortion bans since the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic said that one-third of its patients on its scheduled for this week are from out of state, mostly from those with abortion bans.
On Tuesday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills and Rhode island Gov. Dan McKee, both Democrats, also signed similar executive orders to protect access to abortion.
"A woman's right to choose is just that -- a woman's, not a politician's," Mills said in a statement.
Abortion opponents celebrate after the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, ending federal abortion protection in Washington on Friday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo