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Healey joins multi-state alliance on abortion rights

Gov. Maura Healey is among 20 Democratic governors that have launched a new  coalition called the Reproductive Freedom Alliance.

The network aims to protect and expand abortion access in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson decision which overturned a person's constitutional right to end a pregnancy.

The alliance, spearheaded by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, says it provides a means by which governors and their staffs can share best practices, such as model language for legislation and executive orders protecting abortion access. Member states also plan to share strategies for increasing federal financing for reproductive health care like birth control.

Healey's membership in the alliance is in step with the priorities she campaigned on when running for governor and that she reiterated when she took office. In her inauguration speech she said, "This is a state where we will never relinquish the right to reproductive freedom. Where we prize and protect human rights."

Other governors from New England including Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island have also signed on.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills said the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has left more than half of people in the U.S. without safe access to abortion.

In a joint statement, the governors said, “In the last year alone, over 36 million women have lost access to critical health care with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Medication abortion – one of the safest forms of health care for decades now – may be stripped from our clinics and hospitals nationwide. Doctors face criminal prosecution for providing care. Extremists are trying to restrict access to contraception – and we know they won’t stop there,”

The governors cited a federal court case in Texas that threatens to strip nationwide access to one of the drugs used for medication abortion.

The alliance, which bills itself as national and nonpartisan, touts membership from every presidential battleground state led by a Democrat, including Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Tony Evers of Wisconsin.

Newsom aides said the group would welcome Republicans, though they declined to name any that the California governor or other Democratic governors might be recruiting.

However, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, another member of the alliance, did mention New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who has sent mixed messages on the issue. Sununu signed a state budget in 2021 that included a ban on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy but also said after the Dobbs decision that abortion would remain legal in his state. He endorsed candidates in the November elections who favored further restrictions but also supports adding exemptions to the current law for victims of rape and incest.

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The alliance secured its initial funding from the not-for-profits, the California Wellness Foundation and the Rosenberg Foundation.

With reporting from the Associated Press' Bill Barrow and Geoff, WBUR's News Desk, and Maine Public' Patty Wight. 

Barrow reported from Atlanta. Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Associated Press reporter Holly Ramer contributed from Concord, New Hampshire.

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