Statewide and across the Bay Area, politicians and local leaders, many of whom expressed shock and a renewed commitment to abortion rights, are gearing up to enact more stringent local protections and seek additional resources to support an anticipated influx of women seeking safe abortions in California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement saying, "This draft opinion is an appalling attack on the rights of women across this country, and if it stands, it will destroy lives and put countless women in danger."
A state constitutional amendment, introduced Monday night by Newsom and Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would "enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state," according to an official statement.
A small group of mostly women and a few men gathered outside Palo Alto City Hall on Tuesday evening to voice their opposition to the leaked draft opinion.
"Against Abortion? Don't have one!" one of the homemade signs stated. The group cheered when drivers honked their support.
"I'm so angry," protester Mary Ittelson said. "This decision rolls back everything we thought we had won decades ago."
Stephanie Maples, an art teacher at a local elementary school, wore a sign vividly depicting the slogan "My body, my choice."
The group had assembled in response to an Instagram post by comedian Amy Schumer urging people to "Channel Your Rage into Action" at local courthouses, city halls and town squares.
In an interview, state Sen. Josh Becker, who represents California's 13th Senate District, called it "shocking and appalling that they're going to try to take away women's freedom."
According to the Politico article, five of the nine justices favor the revocation of federal abortion rights, leaving regulation to the individual states. Becker emphasized the gravity of the situation, particularly for women living in less progressive states. Citing the possibility of a huge influx of women seeking legal abortion services in California, he said much has to be done at the state level to prepare.
According to an October 2021 report from the Guttmacher Institute, ending a federal right to abortion would increase the number of women of reproductive age whose nearest provider is in California from 46,000 to 1.4 million — a nearly 3,000% increase.
In addition to a package of 11 bills announced by the California Legislative Women's Caucus in early April, Becker said he's hopeful that the constitutional amendment, which he's co-authoring with Atkins, will receive the two-thirds majority needed to make it onto the November ballot. He's also the co-author of Assembly Bill 1918, which would increase the workforce for reproductive health services.
For leaders at Planned Parenthood, the possibility of a Roe v. Wade reversal is significant in what it represents both symbolically and for the future of the organization.
In a statement, Jodi Hicks, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, called the draft ruling "the nightmare scenario we in the reproductive health, rights, and justice space have been sounding the alarm about."
Using descriptions like "very dehumanizing" and a "complete disregard for the rights of women," Andrew Adams, chief of staff and head of strategic communications at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, said that the draft opinion marks a complete and historic reversal on the part of the court.
"For a long time the Supreme Court has been really focused on protecting and expanding the rights of citizens of the United States," Adams said. "The draft opinion, if it becomes the decision, does exactly the opposite. It robs people of rights that they've held for over 50 years."
Politicians took to Twitter to voice their concerns and support for continued access to abortions.
"California has long defended a woman's fundamental right to choose to bear a child or choose to obtain an abortion, and has strongly supported the institutions that provided safe abortions for women," Assembly member Marc Berman tweeted. "No federal action or Supreme Court decision will shake our state's defense of the right to access legal and safe abortion services."
With the possibility that 26 U.S. states could move to ban abortion, eliminating abortion access for some 36 million women, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, who is running for reelection, reiterated her support for the Women's Health Protection Act.
"The need for this legislation has never been more urgent, and the Senate must act immediately to preserve women's rights over their own bodies. Reproductive choice is personal, private, and serious. We should trust women to make the best decisions," she wrote in a statement.
Local governments are already taking action to prepare for the possible fallout should the high court overturn Roe v. Wade.
In Santa Clara County, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday morning to commit $3 million to fund Planned Parenthood Mar Monte "for the expansion of medical care and facilities for women in our region and out-of-state women coming here for abortions."
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, San Jose's Mar Monte location — the largest in the state of California — expects an additional 200-500 out-of-state women a week seeking abortions, according to a county news release.
Last week, the Redwood City City Council voted to send a letter to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors requesting a protective buffer zone around a local Planned Parenthood. The recommendation, approved unanimously by the council members, would establish a perimeter around the entrance to the clinic that protesters are not allowed to enter.
Adams said that recently passed bills in other states, such as Florida's parental consent law, and Texas's Senate Bill 8 or "Heartbeat Act," which bans abortions after detection of the fetal heartbeat, have already affected California's Planned Parenthood facilities.
From July 1, 2021, to April 15, 2022, the facilities served more than double the number of out-of-state patients compared to the same time period from the previous year.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, control of abortion policies and laws will return to the states. Thirteen states already have anti-abortion laws that would go into effect immediately, including Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
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