Draft opinion on Roe vs. Wade sparks backlash in California

California officials and abortion providers spoke out Monday night against a purported draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that was leaked to Politico and seemed to signal that the nation’s highest court is poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade — a move that would allow states to outlaw abortion.

It is highly unusual for the high court to overturn a landmark decision and equally extraordinary, or perhaps more so, for a draft opinion to leak out in advance of its final release.

In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom called the draft opinion “an appalling attack on the rights of women” across the country.

“If it stands, it will destroy lives and put countless women in danger,” Newsom said. “It will be the end of fundamental constitutional rights that American women have had for nearly 50 years.”

The governor said the draft opinion was not the end.

“We have a Supreme Court that does not value the rights of women, and a political minority that will stop at nothing to take those rights away,” Newsom said in the statement. “This won’t stop with choice and the right to privacy. They are undermining progress, and erasing the civil protections and rights so many have fought for over the last half century.”

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) called the freedom to choose a fundamental right.

“Now is the time to take the decisive action that a majority of Americans want to see,” he said in a tweet Monday night. “We must pass legislation to protect safe and legal access to abortion.”

Sue Dunlap, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, told The Times she felt it’s important for people to remember that the leaked document is a draft opinion.

Nonetheless, access to abortion has long been complicated at best, Dunlap said.

“We know that in states like Texas, women don’t have access to that federal right,” she said. “If you’re a patient or a woman or a family and you’re looking for care, all of this news just made it more confusing and, undoubtedly, even more terrifying for women who are considering abortion or the future of their families.”

Dunlap urged the public to turn any shock or anger they feel at the news into action.

“Anger matters right now,” she said. “Someone very brave at the Supreme Court just undid 200 years of precedent. An opinion has never been leaked before.”

Planned Parenthood Los Angeles has been preparing for a future where the right to abortion is not federal law, she said.

“California has long been a haven for people who can’t find freedom in their own communities,” Dunlap said. “One way that I see that in my day-to-day work is the women who travel here for abortion. We saw a pretty dramatic increase in those numbers in the early days of the Trump presidency. With the news around Texas, those numbers also increased.”

In California as a whole, and Los Angeles County specifically, policymakers have set up safeguards to help ensure all people have access to healthcare, including abortion, she said.

“As one of the largest abortion providers in California, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles has been dreading this moment and preparing for it,” Dunlap said. “I have every expectation we’ll see more people coming to us. We’ve been working with hospitals, with local law schools. UCLA put in place its [Center on Reproductive Health, Law & Policy] at its law school. We’ve been working to solidify all the pieces that our community will need in this future.”

On Tuesday, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a motion to support California Senate Bill 1245, which would establish an Abortion Access Safe Haven Pilot Program in the county, according to the meeting agenda.

This story is developing. Check back for more.

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