KEYT | Jade Martinez-Pogue

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. – The Supreme Court on Friday morning released its official decision on a reproductive rights case, effectively overturning the nearly 50-year precedent set by the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision.

The court voted 6-3 in favor of a Mississippi law – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – that bans most abortion operations after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that reinforced those rights.

In unusual circumstances, a draft of the final Dobbs decision was released in May, causing a range of reactions across the central coast and nationwide.

Now that the official decision has been released, Central Coast elected officials are responding.

Congressman Salud Carbajal called the decision a betrayal and issued the statement below:

“This decision, which overturns a half-century of legal precedent, is a betrayal of our Constitution and a betrayal of millions of women who count on its protections to retain control of their own body and choices.

“As more than half of all U.S. states stand ready to eradicate women’s reproductive rights in the wake of this decision, the majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to choose must see this as a call to action.

“States that have further enshrined these rights like California must stand as a beacon and safe harbor for those whose health care access is now imperiled.

“And we must continue to search for a pathway for legislation which I have already helped pass in the House to codify Roe into federal law.” 

State Senator Monique Limón said that the decision shredded women’s rights, and issued the statement below:

“Today’s announcement confirms the fears of millions of Americans as we witness a woman’s right to control her own reproductive choices be shredded by the Supreme Court. As we continue to navigate this territory, it is so important that we reaffirm our investments for reproductive care in California – as we have for decades. 

While this announcement is a blow, I remain committed to protecting ALL reproductive health care options in California and showing the nation what it means to support the right of women to make reproductive health choices.”

Ventura County-area Congresswoman Julia Brownley issued the below statement:

“Today, the Supreme Court of the United States took unprecedented, deeply disappointing, and ideologically driven action to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision protecting the right to safe and legal abortion.

Today’s decision is a targeted attack on Americans’ rights to make decisions for their bodies, their lives, and their future. This is the culmination of a decades-long plan from extremists within the Republican Party to dismantle access to comprehensive reproductive health care – and, more specifically, threaten the reproductive rights of women across the country.

Abortion bans affect everyone differently, but the impacts of this decision will most heavily affect those who already face barriers to care – particularly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, and those having difficulty making ends meet. This decision will place a harmful and potentially lethal burden on individuals trying to access health care. For many people, this decision would require them to travel hundreds of miles to seek care, unsafely self manage their pregnancies, or forcibly carry a pregnancy against their will.

The impacts of this decision will be dangerous and risk people’s lives. We cannot, and we will not allow the rights of the American people to be dismantled by a court willing to put personal ideology ahead of the Constitution and the rights of women to control their own bodies. While this was a significant step back in the fight for reproductive justice, we will not be deterred. 

The House has already taken action by voting to codify the right to abortion access into federal law. It is deeply disappointing that Senate Republicans continue to block consideration of this legislation in the Senate – and every American must hold these right-wing demagogues accountable at the polls, so that we can protect the rights of people to make decisions about their own reproductive health. 

As a member of the Pro Choice Caucus, I am proud to have voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act, and I will continue fighting until everyone has the freedom to make their own decisions about their health and their lives.

It is critically important for all my constituents to understand that in the State of California, abortion is still legal and people can access safe and legal abortion care. But for millions of others across the United States, this is not the case because of the extreme ideology of a few. 

Every American deserves the right to make their own personal health care decisions – and we must continue to fight to protect the right to abortion access across the United States.” 

The governors of California, Washington, and Oregon issued a multi-state commitment to defend access to reproductive health care. Their statement is below:

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington today issued a Multi-State Commitment 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. 

This Multi-State Commitment affirms the governors’ commitment in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s unprecedented decision to strip away a constitutional right that has been in place for half a century, leaving abortion regulation to the states. The sweeping decision means that for patients in more than half the country, home to 33.6 million women, abortion care is illegal or inaccessible. 

A copy of the Multi-State Commitment to Reproductive Freedom can be found here.

In a video message the governors share a powerful message that the West Coast will remain a place where reproductive health care will be accessible and protected. “The Supreme Court has made it clear – they want to strip women of their liberty and let Republican states replace it with mandated birth because the right to choose an abortion is not ‘deeply rooted in history’. They want to turn back the clock to a time when women had no right to make decisions about their own bodies, when women had to seek care in the shadows and at great danger, when women were not treated as equal citizens under the law. This is another devastating step toward erasing the rights and liberties Americans have fought for on battlefields, in courthouses and in capitols. This is not the America we know – and it’s not the California way,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “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. We refuse to go back and we will fight like hell to protect our rights and our values.”

“Abortion is health care, and no matter who you are or where you come from, Oregon doesn’t turn away anyone seeking health care. Period. Let me be clear: You cannot ban abortion, you can only ban safe abortions — and this disgraceful Supreme Court decision will undoubtedly put many people’s lives at risk, in addition to stripping away a constitutional right that disproportionately affects women and has been settled law for most of our lifetimes,” said Governor Kate Brown. “For all the Americans today feeling scared, angry and disappointed — for everyone who needs an abortion and does not know where they can access safe reproductive health care –– please know you are not alone, and the fight is not over.”

“The law remains unchanged in Washington state, but the threat to patient access and privacy has never been more dangerous. Even in Washington state, Republicans have introduced about 40 bills in the past six years to roll back abortion rights and access to reproductive care,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “The right of choice should not depend on which party holds the majority, but that’s where we find ourselves. More than half the nation’s population now lacks safe access to a medical procedure that only a patient and their doctor can and should make for themselves. Instead, law enforcement, vigilantes and judicial systems can force patients to bear the burdens of forced pregnancy and birth. Washington state remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting the ability and right of every patient who comes to our state in need of abortion care, and we will fight like hell to restore that right to patients all across the country.”

The governors outlined actions taken over the years to expand and protect reproductive health in preparation for a decision such as Friday’s:

  • Governor Newsom has proposed a $125 million Reproductive Health Package to expand access for women and help prepare for the influx of women seeking reproductive health care from other states. The California Legislature has introduced a constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. Governor Newsom recently signed legislation eliminating copays for abortion care services and has signed into law a legislative package to further strengthen access and protect patients and providers. Additional proposals are being considered with the Legislature.
  • Oregon led the nation by passing the most comprehensive reproductive health legislation at the time. Governor Brown signed Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act into law in 2017 — a first of its kind bill that expanded access to reproductive health services for all Oregonians and codified the right to an abortion into state law. Adding to that work, Oregon invested $15 million for community-based organizations to expand access to abortion across the state and provide immediate support to patients, health care providers, and community advocates, with a focus on rural communities, communities of color, and low-income communities to overcome barriers to access.
  • In 2018 Governor Inslee signed the Reproductive Parity Act that requires all health plans that include maternity care services to also cover abortion and contraception. In 2021 he signed the Protecting Pregnancy Act that allows doctors who practice in Catholic-run hospitals to bypass ethical-religious directives and provide medically necessary abortion when a woman’s life is in danger. Earlier this year Inslee signed the Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act that better ensures the ability of Washington abortion care providers to serve any person who comes in Washington state seeking an abortion. Washington law also protects patients and clinic personnel from harassment outside of clinics. Further, when federal changes were made to the Title X program to not allow family planning clinics to reference abortion as an option, Washington state stepped up to fund the Title X clinics instead of having to comply. While the federal funding has been restored, the state will continue to provide needed funding to support access to abortion.

This story was originally published by KEYT on June 24, 2022.