Dozens of California abortion clinics, pro-abortion groups, and lawmakers in favor of abortion presented a plan Wednesday to make California a sanctuary state for those wanting abortions in case the landmark Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court next year.
Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that women have the right to an abortion without state interference within the first trimester of a pregnancy. Despite a few challenges and alteration challenges in the last 48 years, the wording was only changed once. 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey changed the first trimester wording to fetal viability. Since then, it has been worded as “A person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Viability means the ability to live outside the womb, which usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks after conception.”
However, in recent years, a number of states have passed restrictive abortion laws, such as the Texas Heartbeart Act, which virtually ends nearly all abortions in the state after six weeks due to a detected heartbeat. Another case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenges a 2018 Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks.
The Supreme Court also reached a definitive conservative majority last year following Amy Coney Barrett being confirmed as the next Justice in place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had died in October 2020.
Now, with the Supreme Court giving indications that they would rule in favor of the state and ban abortions once again to some degree in the Dobbs case, with the most likely outcome kicking abortion laws back to the states, Californian abortion supporters are now putting a plan in place to welcome the influx of women seeking a legal abortion.
According to a report by the California Future of Abortion Council, 26 states would likely see abortion bans if Roe v. Wade is overturned, including Texas, Utah, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and Florida. As California has a large number of reproductive clinics and a mostly non-harassment environment from protestors, the number of women estimated to come to California for abortions will go from the current 46,000 a year to 1.4 million a year, with the largest number likely to come from Arizona.
However, California abortion and reproductive care currently has many barriers for women seeking treatment coming from outside the state, including the long drive times to the state, high costs for things such as co-pays and deductibles, and difficulty in finding more specialized providers. An influx of Texas patients this year in California due to the new Texas law highlighted highlighted the potential issues of a sudden influx, and showed the areas where California needs improvement. With demand likely to go up by astronomical numbers should Roe v. Wade falls, California abortion groups and lawmakers started coming up with a plan on Wednesday to address this issue.
“We’ll be a sanctuary,” said Governor Gavin Newsom on California’s role if other states implement abortion bans. “Patients will likely travel to California from other states to seek abortions. We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections. Some of the report’s details will be included in the budget proposal in January.”
California’s sanctuary state plans
The California Future of Abortion Council’s report specifically has 45 recommendations for the state in a sanctuary capacity, including funding many abortion groups to provide care, funding support infrastructure at abortion clinics, improving Medi-Cal abortion policies, give more protections to those seeking abortions, and even help fund travel, lodging, and procedure costs for those otherwise unable to afford the procedure. The recommendations, written largely by abortion provider experts and lawmakers, such as Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego),
“We’re looking at how to build capacity and build workforce,” noted Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California CEO Jodi Hicks on Wednesday. “It will take a partnership and investment with the state.”
However, those opposing abortion in California plan to push back against those recommendations should they be enacted.
“We know that we aren’t going to get California to ban abortion should Roe be overturned,” explained Kathy Weber, a San Bernardino County anti-abortion group leader who assists women who choose to give birth after previously wanting an abortion. “Not the way the state is now. But we can try and stop the state from outright paying people to come here or to loosen laws here even more.”
“But it has been hard recently, especially with the Texas surge of people coming into California for abortions. When neighboring states get bans and California getting this huge influx as sort as an abortion-vacation destination like how many Americans go to Mexico to get dental work, this will be a big problem.”
“We don’t want California’s new growth industry to be abortion clinics.”
Proponents of the recommendations are currently eyeing multiple funding sources, including the state’s projected $31 billion surplus, for next year.