California reacts in anticipation to Roe v. Wade overturn

By Jensen Giesick and Jocelyn Hernandez Gomez

The internal memo obtained by POLITICO of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade sent shockwaves across the country. 

Roe v. Wade, decided almost 50 years ago, guarantees federal protections for women regarding reproductive rights and declared that access to legal abortion is a constitutional right. 

If the U.S. Supreme Court follows through and issues this opinion, it would cause the states to fracture into those that allow abortion and those that ban it. 

SF State Political Science Professor Amanda Roberti said while things could change, she’s not sure how severe the impact will be.

“Those of us who have been watching the abortion fight – have noted that we were going to get an opinion like this one that would significantly weaken Roe, or overturn it completely,” Roberti said. “So this wasn’t much of a surprise, only that the time that it came out was a surprise.” 

This announcement came on the heels of a decision last fall by the U.S. Supreme Court to let stand a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.

On May 2, California Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Vice Chair Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) criticized the opinion stating, “It’s about equity. This will be the first time my generation will lose a fundamental right, the right to choose.” 

On Jan. 20, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus announced a united effort to strengthen and expand access to abortion with a partnership with the California Future of Abortion Council, a statewide coalition of reproductive freedom, sexual and reproductive healthcare allies, partners and leaders.

“The leak was a draft document,” Roberti said. “Abortion is still legal right now. Roe v. Wade is still the law – and because it’s a draft, also things could change in it, although I‘m not sure to what degree things will change.’’

Protest at Phillip Burton Federal Building

Hundreds of protestors gathered near the San Francisco Phillip Burton Federal Building Tuesday evening to voice their opposition to the draft opinion.

“We want abortion on demand and without apology,” said Margaret Lee, an attendee.

The movement was organized by the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice, San Francisco Chapter.

“We are out here today to defend our reproductive rights and we will stop at nothing to have our voices heard,” said Robin Campell. 

Governor Newsom and top legislative leaders committed late Monday to put an amendment on the ballot this November to amend the California Constitution that will protect the reproductive rights of women and make abortion a Constitutional right in California.

“We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution,” Newsom said in a joint statement with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins.

The case in question, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court before the end of the June term.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is challenging a Mississippi ban on abortion. The state of Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to rule there is no constitutional right to abortion, thus overruling the seminal case of Roe v. Wade.

Members of the Women’s Caucus have made women’s reproductive rights a priority for 2022. They submitted a package of 13 pending bills addressing the nationwide threat to women’s reproductive rights in accordance with recommendations from the Future of Abortion Council.  

“We will never yield, we will never give up until a women’s right to choose is permanently protected,” said Mayor London Breed in opposition to the leaked SCOTUS draft opinion at the rally Tuesday evening.

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