Californians and California politicians are reacting Tuesday morning to a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion, obtained by Politico, suggesting the court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.
The opinion is a draft, not a final decision, and opinions often change in ways big and small during the drafting process. Chief Justice Roberts confirmed Tuesday morning, in a statement vowing an investigation of the leak, that the document did indeed come from the court.
But if the drafted opinion goes through during the final vote on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, the decision to overrule Roe would likely lead to abortion bans in roughly half of U.S. states.
Here's what to know about how the decision would impact California and how the state plans to respond.
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What can states like California do if Roe v Wade is overturned?
If the U.S. Supreme Court follows through on overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, states would likely split up into those with abortion access and those that outlaw it. Some states, like California, are already preparing for any changes to the long-standing law.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter Monday night that abortion rights would remain protected in the state. State lawmakers issued a joint statement saying they plan to propose a state constitutional amendment.
"We are proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in the California constitution," he said in the statement. "We can’t trust SCOTUS to protect the right to abortion, so we’ll do it ourselves. Women will remain protected here."
A separate statement was tweeted by the Office of the Governor of California, in conjunction with state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and state Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins. That statement affirmed the state legislature's position in favor of abortion rights, and announced a proposed amendment to the state constitution.
"California will not stand idly by as women across America are stripped of their rights and the progress so many have fought for gets erased," the statement reads.
"We will fight. California is proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state. 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. Women will remain protected here."
About half of U.S. states are already expected to ban abortion if Roe is overturned or changed, according to the abortion-rights think tank Guttmacher Institute. Twenty-two states have total or near-total bans. Aside from Texas, all are now blocked in court because of Roe v Wade. Thirteen states have trigger laws, which would immediately ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
What are California abortion providers saying about the SCOTUS draft opinion?
Abortion providers and women's healthcare groups in California, including Planned Parenthood's state affiliates, also responded to the news.
"...Know this: Planned Parenthood health centers across California will remain open," the organization's statement read in part. "They will remain willing to help. And we will do all we can to continue to provide abortion services to all who need it or seek it here in California."
The statements are in line with recent state legislation that makes abortion more accessible to people on private insurance and protects California as a "sanctuary" for the medical procedure in the event the federal right to an abortion disappears.
What does a possible Roe v. Wade decision mean for Southern California?
A bill designed to make Los Angeles County a similar safe haven for people who want an abortion is in the California Senate, and members of the LA County Board of Supervisors appeared ready to support it.
Supervisor Janice Hahn of LA County's 4th district issued a statement on Twitter.
"The @CountyofLA and the State of California will continue to protect the right to choose," Hahn said. "Tomorrow our board will vote on supporting SB1245, a bill by @sydneykamlager creating a pilot program in LA County ensuring accessible reproductive care to women from out of state."
That vote was on Tuesday's agenda for the LA County board even before the news broke on Monday.
Protesters arrived at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on Monday night soon after the Politico report broke. Some were angry and upset at the draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of established abortion rights, while others were thrilled.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony list, an anti-abortion nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Virginia, issued a statement.
"If the draft opinion made public tonight is the final opinion of the court, we wholeheartedly applaud the decision," said Dannenfelser. "The American people have the right to act through their elected officials to debate and enact laws that protect unborn children and honor women."
California representatives in D.C. also reacted on Twitter to the news.
Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine said, "From the draft opinion: "[Abortion opponents] note that attitudes about the pregnancy of unmarried women have changed drastically." Not a single justice knows what it's like to be one of the 10+ million single parents in America. I do, and I support a woman's right to choose."
Several protests and rallies are scheduled locally around Southern California and nationwide, including one in Downtown Los Angeles at noon Tuesday.