Major abortion rights organizations and private law firms have teamed up to provide legal counsel to patients and providers navigating the complicated patchwork of U.S. abortion laws. The newly created Abortion Defense Network, which includes such groups as the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said it will match people providing or supporting abortion services to attorneys who can defend them in a rapidly shifting legal landscape, Reuters reports. The Supreme Court's June 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a nearly 50-year-old precedent that established federal abortion rights, has resulted in a dozen states banning most abortions. Abortion rights advocates are increasingly concerned about those states' efforts to prosecute patients who are traveling across state lines or self-managing abortions at home, as well as providers whose medical judgment might conflict with state law.
“We've created the Abortion Defense Network to help those involved with abortion care navigate this confusing and hostile legal landscape," said the ACLU's Jennifer Dalven. The Abortion Defense Network said it will help cover legal expenses in criminal and civil proceedings, but did not immediately answer questions about the group's funding and how much will be covered. The group's launch comes a day after 20 Democratic governors announced they had formed an alliance to protect abortion rights and access within their states. Abortion rights supporters have been dissatisfied with the Biden administration's response to the elimination of much abortion access. The administration has sought to improve access to medication abortion, which involves a federally approved pill, but a pending federal court decision could jeopardize that avenue as well.