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California seeks 'right to choose' in state constitution amid reports of SCOTUS draft opinion on abortion

"We can’t trust SCOTUS to protect the right to abortion, so we’ll do it ourselves. Women will remain protected here," he tweeted.

WASHINGTON — An unprecedented draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday.

If the February opinion as written becomes the law of the land, an estimated 26 states are certain or likely to outlaw abortion immediately. 

The news that federal protections for abortions could be overturned by the Supreme Court brought joy to Lucia Carillo of Modesto.

“I’m praying! I’m praying and believing that it will change because it will be a better world,” Carillo said.

The mother of three said when she was 16, an adult man pressured her to get a legal abortion without the consent of her parents. She said that experience traumatized her, and as a child, she didn’t know she could keep her baby. She said that she's staunchly against abortions.

“I’m against it. It’s murder,” she said.

But here in California, the state has long positioned itself as a haven for safe abortions.

If Roe Vs. Wade is overturned individual states would decide whether abortion would be legal within their boundaries

But Ederlina Co, an associate professor of law at the University of the Pacific said at least one thing is certain.

“What we know from history, what we know from other countries is that women will go to great lengths not to be pregnant, if they don't want to be, regardless of whether or not abortion is legal or not,” Co said.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health rights advocacy group, 26 states are likely to quickly outlaw abortion, impacting 36 million people who may need to cross state lines for abortion care or resort to dangerous methods.

“Here in California, we have by far the most easy access to abortion in the entire country. You can get it as a minor, you don't have to have parental consent,” said Emily Hoeven, political reporter for CalMatters.

California has positioned itself at the forefront of abortion access, and the legislature is also currently considering bills that could expand abortion care.

The California Future of Abortion Council said the number of out-of-state patients whose nearest clinic would be in California would increase nearly 3,000% and that’s only counting those traveling by car.

Experts say to expect a mass political mobilization on both sides of the debate.

"Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will not be silenced. The world is about to hear their fury. California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in tweet.

Newsom announced on Twitter that an amendment is being proposed to add the right to choose into California's constitution.

"We can’t trust SCOTUS to protect the right to abortion, so we’ll do it ourselves. Women will remain protected here," he tweeted.

A full statement from Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Gov. Newsom is provided below.

"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. 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."

it’s unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter. Opinions often change in ways big and small in the drafting process, but this breach of the Supreme Court and the contents of this draft opinion could have huge ramifications for this year’s elections.

Whatever the outcome, the Politico report represents an extremely rare breach of the court's secretive deliberation process, and on a case of surpassing importance.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," the draft opinion states. It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court's 6-3 conservative majority who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

The document was labeled a "1st Draft" of the "Opinion of the Court" in a case challenging Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks, a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

The court is expected to rule on the case before its term ends in late June or early July. The draft opinion in effect states there is no constitutional right to abortion services and would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the procedure.

"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," it states, referencing the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey that affirmed Roe's finding of a constitutional right to abortion services but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said the court had no comment and The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the draft Politico posted, which dates from February.

Politico said only that it received "a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court's proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document."

The draft opinion strongly suggests that when the justices met in private shortly after arguments in the case on Dec. 1, at least five voted to overrule Roe and Casey, and Alito was assigned the task of writing the court's majority opinion.

Votes and opinions in a case aren't final until a decision is announced or, in a change wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, posted on the court's website.


Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko in Washington and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.


California could become a sanctuary state if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

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