Protests Follow Roe v. Wade
By Tanu T. Henry
California Black Media
Last week’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 51-year-old decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion, continues to draw outrage. It has sparked protests around the country and united opponents determined to use their political power to push back against it.
Critics say the decision disregards decades of legal precedent and opens the door for nearly half of U.S. states who have stated their desire — or instituted proceedings — to ban the procedure.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement showing his displeasure with the ruling and spoke out against anti-abortion policies in Texas, which is among the 11 states that have banned or enacted restrictions on abortion.
“I am outraged by yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Texas’s ban on most abortion services to remain in place, and largely endorsing Texas’s scheme to insulate its law from the fundamental protections of Roe v. Wade,” the governor’s statement read.
“But if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way,” the statement continued.
Newsom followed with a tweet reiterating California’s commitment to providing abortion care and protections for women.
“Abortion is legal in California. It will remain that way. I just signed a bill that makes our state a safe haven for women across the nation. We will not cooperate with any states that attempt to prosecute women or doctors for receiving or providing reproductive care,” he wrote.
To hold gun manufacturers accountable, Newsom says he plans to use tactics similar to the ones Texas employed to target, attack and box in abortion providers.
“I have directed my staff to work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California. If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that,” Newsom said.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee District 13 (Oakland) released a statement listing steps individuals outraged by the Supreme Court’s decision can take to fight back. In it, she also blasted lawmakers responsible for taking away citizens’ rights to make their own healthcare decisions.
“Now, we must support local clinics, health providers, abortion funds and nonprofits doing the groundwork to connect those in states with draconian abortion bans to safe-haven states like California or provide access to medication abortion. We must ensure safe abortions are still accessible to the most vulnerable,” Lee said.
“This is NOT over. We must fight this in state legislatures. We must organize and elect a pro-choice Senate in the midterms and every election thereafter.
Rep. Karen Bass District 37(Los Angeles), who is running for mayor of Los Angeles, said biases related to race and class are factors that influence access to health care.
“Today is a devastating day in the history of this country, especially for the most vulnerable communities. The reality is that affluent women will always have the right to choose even in states that establish bans on abortion,” she said. “Today’s decision is an attack on low-income women and women of color by the same people who don’t believe in accessible childcare or affordable food programs in schools. The idea that we are still fighting in 2022 for our right to access to reproductive health care — a battle that was resolved fifty years ago—is an absolute tragedy and sets a potentially unconscionable precedent of decisions impacting equal rights under the law.”
Alexis McGill Johnson, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, warned that the Supreme Court’s decision may be a precursor to other protections being overturned in the future.
“Knowing this moment would come does not make it any less devastating. The Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives,” she said.
While the SCOTUS’ decision saddens Johnson, she is hopeful that the ruling will mobilize people to make their voices heard and exercise their power to create change.
“But in stripping away our rights, the Supreme Court and anti-abortion politicians have also unleashed a movement. We are a movement that will not compromise on our bodies, our dignity, or our freedom,” she said. “We are a movement that will show up at every town hall, every legislative session, and every ballot box to demand we are treated like equal citizens. We are a movement that will do what we can to get abortion care to people and people to abortion care.”
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, abortions remain legal in California.