Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Governor Gavin Newsom assured that California will fight to maintain the right to choose for its women residents, following reports detailing a draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, ending federal constitutional protections for abortion rights.
"California will not stand idly by while women across America are stripped of their rights and the progress so many have fought for is erased. We will fight back. California is proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there will be no question about abortion rights in this state," they said in a joint statement.
The draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, was distributed in early February and has not yet been approved, so votes may change before the final opinion is issued.
"We know we cannot rely on 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," Californian officials pointed out.
It should be noted that abortion has been considered legal in the U.S. since 1973 following the Roe v. Wade ruling, which details that a woman has the right to have an abortion. However, access to treatment depends on the laws determined by each state and most states have established gestational limits ranging from 20 to 24 weeks.
Newsom said Monday that the proposed legislation "is an egregious attack on women's rights across the country and, if upheld, will destroy lives. It endangers countless women. It will be the end of fundamental constitutional rights that American women have had for nearly 50 years."
However, he said, this is not an isolated incident and will not be the end of them.
"This is not an isolated incident, and it is not the end. We have a Supreme Court that does not value women's rights, and a political minority that will stop at nothing to take away those rights."
"This will not stop with choice and the right to privacy. They are undermining progress and erasing the protections and civil rights that so many have fought for over the last half century," he added.
The governor expressed his anger that his children cannot grow up in a country with greater freedoms.
"I am furious that my own daughters and sons may grow up in an America that is less free than the one they were born into. We have to wake up. We have to fight like hell. We will not be silenced," he said.
The judges are expected to issue their ruling on this case in early July.
What is Roe v. Wade about?
In 1971, Norma McCorvey, known in court documents as Jane Roe; a Texas resident who did not want to continue her third pregnancy, but, under Texas law, could not legally have an abortion.
Thus, McCorvey sued Henry Wade, the Dallas County District Attorney, who enforced a Texas law prohibiting abortion except to save a woman's life. This law had been ruled unconstitutional in an earlier federal district court case.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas heard the case and ruled in its favor. The State of Texas then appealed this ruling directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
By January 1973, the Supreme Court issued a decision ruling that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a "right to privacy" that protects a pregnant woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
In turn, it ruled that this right is not absolute, and that it must be weighed against the government's interests in protecting women's health and protecting prenatal life.
Following the argument, the Court called the right to choose to have an abortion "fundamental," requiring courts to evaluate challenged abortion laws under the "strict scrutiny" standard, the highest level of judicial review in the United States.
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