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 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.
In an interview, State Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, 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, a total abortion ban 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 the bill, AB1918, which would increase the workforce for reproductive health services.
"We expect that, if this happens, we're going to have tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of women coming to California for a safe legal abortion, and we don't have the workforce for that right now," he said.
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.
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."
Describing today as a "somber day," Redwood City Mayor Giselle Hale said, "I'm feeling a way that women haven't felt for a generation. That level of uncertainty is very real." She added that she was also "feeling more emboldened to stand up and speak up for the rights of women and pregnant people who need this care and deserve this care. I'm prepared to defend their rights."
Other politicians and women's rights advocates took to Twitter to voice their concerns and support for continued access to reproductive health care.
"My abortion saved my life. It allowed me to have another child, pursue a life of public service & realize my personal and professional dreams," wrote Congresswoman Jackie Speier who represents California's 14th congressional district. "Most importantly it was my decision. That shouldn't be a privilege."
Assembly member Marc Berman tweeted, "I stand with all of those who are fighting..."
"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," Berman said in a statement posted to Twitter. "No federal action or Supreme Court decision will shake our state's defense of the right to access legal and safe abortion services."
San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, who's vying for Speier's seat in Congress, also condemned the leaked opinion.
"For women across America who want to keep ownership over their health, this decision should not stand," he tweeted on Monday. "I will fight to protect and restore a woman's right to choose — always and take on the right-wing Republicans in Congress who oppose a woman's right to choose!"
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, CA-18, who is running for re-election, also released a statement, describing the opinion as a historic attempt to "eviscerate a constitutional right by overturning Roe v. Wade."
With the possibility that 26 U.S. states could move to ban abortion, eliminating abortion access for some 36 million women, Eshoo reiterated her support for the Women's Health Protection Act.
She wrote: "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."
Local governments are already taking action to prepare for the possible fallout,
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, introduced by Hale and approved unanimously by the council members, would establish a perimeter around the entrance to the clinic that protestors are not allowed to enter.
"It's about having every tool in our toolbox to defend access to this essential right," she said. Hale added that the North Fair Oaks Community Council, under the leadership of President Brooks Esser, is considering writing a similar recommendation supporting the Planned Parenthood buffer zone on behalf of the council.
Though the city's letter has yet to be submitted, San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum, said he would likely support the implementation of a buffer zone. He said he was also in favor of a move, like that taken by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, to direct additional funding to local reproductive health care facilities.
Asked about the role of local government on this issue he said he'd like to see the board take "some concrete steps, not just symbolic."
"I do think we have a responsibility," Slocum said. "And that goes beyond just adopting a resolution condemning the court for its decision."
Pointing to recently passed bills, 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, Adams said that reproductive rights "have been under attack for a long time."
The impact of these state bills has already rippled into states like California, Adams said.
From July 1, 2021, to April 15, 2022, California's Planned Parenthood facilities served more than double the number of out-of-state patients compared to the same time period from the previous year, which Adams attributed to growing restrictions in states like Texas.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, control of abortion policies and laws will return to the states. Thirteen "trigger law" 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.
California is an abortion-rights state.
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