Leaders in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Montana, North Carolina, and Kansas utilized their veto powers to protect a person’s right to choose.
In 2019, state lawmakers in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio passed laws banning a person’s right to an abortion after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, or approximately six weeks’ gestation, when many people may not even know they’re pregnant. Alabama also enacted a near-total ban on abortion. Because of legal challenges, however, not a single one of these laws went into effect this year.
According to a recent analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization focused on reproductive rights, anti-abortion legislators were busy this year. Of the 58 new abortion restrictions signed into law, 25 prohibited some, most, or all abortions.
But this year’s reproductive legislative news was not all grim. “In the midst of the relentless and coordinated attacks on abortion, there’s been a surge of positive momentum as state policymakers fight back against to protect and support abortion rights and access,” Elizabeth Nash, Guttmacher’s senior state issues manager, said in an emailed statement. “State policymakers can and must take decisive action to protect these fundamental rights and work to ensure that abortion is available, accessible and affordable.”
In fact, that’s exactly what five Democratic governors did in 2019.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
In June, the Republican-controlled legislature sent a handful of abortion-related bills to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk; he promptly vetoed all four. The legislation proposed…
- punishing providers for failing to “preserve the life and health” of a fetus that is born from a failed abortion (which rarely happens)
- requiring providers tell patients they can reverse a medication abortion at a certain point (even though there’s little medical evidence to support this)
- banning abortions that are based on sex, race, or disability
- stripping government dollars from Planned Parenthood
“We shouldn’t be limiting the right for women to make their own healthcare decisions,” Gov. Evers tweeted after the legislation was approved by the State Assembly in May. “That’s why I’ll veto the bills passed by the Assembly last week if they arrive on my desk. It’s time to listen to women.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf
In November, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed House Bill 321, which would have outlawed abortions based on an diagnosis of Downs syndrome. “Physicians and their patients must be able to make choices about medical procedures based on best practices and standards of care,” Wolf wrote.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
During the 2019 legislative session, Montana lawmakers sent more than 500 bills to the governor’s desk. Most were signed into law; however, Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed 36 Republican-sponsored bills, including one that prohibited abortion at 20 weeks, another that required patients obtain an ultrasound prior to receiving the procedure, and a third that required a healthcare provider to preserve the life of a fetus delivered alive during an abortion.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper
Calling the legislation an “unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients,” Gov. Roy Cooper—like his counterparts in Montana and Wisconsin—rejected a bill this past summer that required doctors protect the life of a fetus born during an abortion.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly
Unwilling to interfere in the provider-patient relationship for a law that’s not medically accurate, Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed legislation in April that would have required doctors to tell patients it’s possible to stop a medication abortion and continue with their pregnancy.
“This unwarranted legislation will create confusion and could be harmful to women’s health,” Gov. Kelly said. “The practice of medicine should be left to licensed health professionals, not elected officials.”