Chelsea is one of 15 cities and counties across the state that has issued a public letter to the heads of three federal agencies urging them to take immediate steps to ensure that their departments do non play any role in the enforcement of state bans on abortion care.
The coalition, led by the national Public Rights Project, sent the letter to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“We try to stay out of national issues here unless they have a direct impact on our residents,” said City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “Certainly, immigration issues do, and we think reproductive rights do, as well, especially when we have a lot of foreign-born residents who come to the country from places where reproductive rights are restricted. So we feel it is important for us to support these efforts, so this seemed like a legitimate place for the city to express its opinion.”
The letter demands that the three agencies — the Department of Justice, the Deparment of Homeland Security, and the Department of Transportation — “issue directives making clear that their departments and subcomponents will not participate in investigations or other law enforcement activities relating to the criminalization of abortion care.”
The cities and counties urge the agencies to limit information sharing and other steps that might support local and state actors in their prosecution of pregnant people, providers, and others relating to abortion care.
“Cities and counties are making extraordinary efforts to overcome the harm the Dobbs decision has already caused,” said Jill Habig, Founder and President of Public Rights Project. “We applaud this coalition of city and county partners in fighting for justice and using all available tools to maintain access to critical, lifesaving health care. We know the federal government can and must do more for its part, too.”
The coalition of cities and counties joining Chelsea in signing onto the letter include Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore; Chicago; Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Madison and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; New York City; Oakland; Pittsburgh; Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California, the city and county of San Francisco; and St. Paul, Minnesota.
The letter states that the work done by local governments to date includes the deprioritization of criminal enforcement of abortion laws by local police, creation of abortion funds to support access to care, dissemination of public health information, and elimination of co-pays for abortion cover.
The letter concludes that “access to abortion care is urgently needed throughout the country, and your departments are essential to protecting the rights that the U.S. Supreme Court has sought to eliminate.”
The Public Rights Project states that its mission is to work hand in hand with local, state, and tribal governments across the U.S. to equitably enforce laws that protect people’s civil and human rights.