MENDOCINO Co. 6/24/22 — Although the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States was struck down by the Supreme Court Friday, California remains one of several states with strong — and growing — protections to safe and legal abortions.
The Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition is hosting two women’s march protests in the county Friday night, one at the Ukiah courthouse and the other at the Five Mile Courthouse in Fort Bragg. Both protests begin at 5 p.m.
“Some say countless women in this country will die because of this decision. But we will count every single one of them. Their deaths will be laid at the feet of The Supreme Court and the religious right” said MWPC Chair Val Muchowski in a statement.
Local and state politicians criticized the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade but highlighted California’s efforts to strengthen legal protections to abortion. They also acknowledged the state as a likely haven for those seeking abortion in the future, as surrounding states look to criminalize the procedure following the Supreme Court ruling.
“Today is a very dark day in America,” said the North Coast’s Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) in a statement to The Voice. “A day when we should be celebrating our constitutional protections of privacy and a woman’s right to choose is clouded by a Supreme Court decision that eviscerates that federal protection and tragically opens up the possibility that other rights will be challenged in the future.”
“California will continue to protect those rights and will support oppressed women in other states if they need our help to make their own healthcare decisions,” he continued.
The state legislature is moving to pass a proposed amendment to the California constitution that would ban the state from denying or interfering with abortions or contraceptives. Democratic state legislators are moving swiftly to approve the measure, CalMatters previously reported.
The amendment will likely appear on the November ballot.
“Here at home, The Golden State will always stand for a woman’s right to choose. We’ll never back down,” State Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) said in a Tweet Friday. “That’s why we’re advancing some of the strongest protections in America on reproductive health.”
Abortion is already protected by California state law and in the state’s constitution. California courts ruled to protect the right to abortion in 1969 — four years before the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade — and state voters added a right to privacy in the constitution in 1972.
California provides public funding for abortion and requires private insurance companies to cover the cost of the procedure. State law also prohibits obstruction, intimidation or use of force outside of reproductive health clinics.
Though the state has some of the strongest protections to abortion in the country, abortion is not allowed past “viability.”
In addition to the proposed constitutional amendment, the Democratic-controlled state legislature is working on 14 measures to further protect reproductive healthcare. One measure includes creating an abortion support fund to help patients with financial burdens of travel and lodging. Another measure to protect patients and providers from civil liability in cases where claims are based on laws in other states whose laws contradict those in California passed the legislature Thursday and is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
California lawmakers moved to strengthen the state’s healthcare infrastructure after a leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in May signaled that the state may see an influx of patients seeking reproductive healthcare. Newsom proposed a $125 million reproductive healthcare package in May that would cover uncompensated care for abortion services, fund the development of a comprehensive reproductive rights website informing the public on abortion protections in the state, and fund research regarding unmet needs in the state’s reproductive healthcare system.
Following the Supreme Court’s official decision Friday morning, Newsom announced a multi-state commitment with Oregon and Washington to “defend access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives, and committed to protecting patients and doctors against efforts by other states to export their abortion bans to our states.”
“California has banded together with Oregon and Washington to stand up for women, and to protect access to reproductive health care. We will not sit on the sidelines and allow patients who seek reproductive care in our states or the doctors that provide that care to be intimidated with criminal prosecution,” Newsom said in a video announcing the commitment. “We refuse to go back and we will fight like hell to protect our rights and our values.”