LA County steps up efforts to become ‘safe haven’ for abortion rights – Whittier Daily News


As the United States Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 court case that federally guaranteed abortion rights — Los Angeles County leaders on Tuesday, May 3, doubled down on a proposed pilot project that would make the county a safe haven for women seeking abortion and in need of related health care.

The all-women council unanimously backed the bill and will ask its legislative advocates in Sacramento to push for a state bill that would create a program through which Los Angeles County could provide health care services. abortion to women, regardless of their residence.

The item had, coincidentally, been on the board’s agenda on Tuesday before Politico reported late Monday that the Supreme Court had voted to overthrow Roe. This report apparently confirmed what legal experts had long suspected – that the Supreme Court, with six Republican-appointed justices, should dismantle the federal abortion protections provided by Roe and place access to this healthcare procedure in health within the legislative framework of each State.

While perhaps unsurprising, the news still sent shockwaves across the country.

And in Los Angeles County, elected officials — those sitting in Congress or running for House seats and members of local council — have publicly vowed to protect women’s right to abortion. In some cases, like with the county or Long Beach, those efforts were already underway.

“We didn’t know when we put this item on the news agenda that we were going to get,” supervisor Holly Mitchell said during a board meeting. “Or maybe we did, tragically.”

For decades, the right to abortion was taken for granted. The Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 in Roe v. Wade in 1973 to ensure women have the right to an abortion, a decision upheld in his 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Together, the two cases established guaranteed abortion rights across the United States until the fetus was viable, usually 22 to 24 weeks.

Judges have always been reluctant to overturn precedent except in rare cases.

Yet this is what the court seems ready to do.

Politico cited an early draft court opinion, written by Judge Samuel Alito, which says “Roe was gravely wrong from the start” and “must be overturned.” Alito drafted this draft, which the Supreme Court upheld as authentic, on behalf of the majority, which also includes Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

While opinions often go through multiple revisions before being published, with judges sometimes switching sides or demanding changes to legal arguments, the draft – leaked to Politico and published with its report – sparked protests and celebrations across the countries, as heads of state consolidate their positions on reproductive rights.

It has also fueled concerns about the future of other rights that the court has previously affirmed but are not mentioned in the constitution. The court frequently used the 14th Amendment’s “due process” clause to secure these unlisted rights, including marriage equality and access to birth control.

“Reading Judge Alito’s opinion, it’s clear that he and his colleagues are just getting started,” supervisor Hilda Solis said. “He goes on to say that a historical basis is needed for constitutional protection – a true ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ storyline – laying the groundwork for overthrowing same-sex marriage and other constitutional rights.”

Twenty-four states, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, are set to ban abortion if the court strikes down Roe.

That prospect has sparked speculation that California — whose governor and legislature have long vehemently supported the rule of law established by Roe — will see an influx of travelers seeking to access abortion services.

The office of Los Angeles City Council Speaker Nury Martinez cited a study that said California is expected to see a 3,000% increase — from 46,000 to 1.4 million — in women of childbearing age whose provider nearest abortion center is in California.

In December, California Clinics and their allies in the state legislature unveiled a plan to make the state a “sanctuary” for people seeking reproductive health care, underpinned by 45 recommendations that a coalition of abortion rights organizations and health care providers gave the state to consider whether Roe is ultimately overthrown.

Los Angeles County itself could become a particular haven.

“We really need to be a beacon – a rational, welcoming and supportive place,” said supervisor Shelia Kuehl. “State legislation is really important. It’s a good next step, I think.

Council action on Tuesday directs county legislative attorneys in Sacramento to support Senate Bill 1245, drafted by State Sen. Sydney Kamlager, D-Los Angeles, who is also a member of the Planned Board of Directors. ParenthoodLos Angeles.

State Senator Sydney Kamlager is the author of a bill that would establish a reproductive health care pilot project in the county. (Courtesy picture)

The bill — which is moving through the legislative committee process — would establish a reproductive health care pilot project in the county to support “innovative approaches and patient-centered collaborations” to ensure access to abortions.

This access would be available regardless of residence, according to a report.

The bill also comes with a state budget request for $20 million to help launch the pilot program.

The Board of Supervisors, however, is not the only local agency working to prepare California to become a safe haven.

Long Beach has been working since early February to identify additional funding for access to reproductive health care — including the potential launch of a local full-spectrum health care pilot plan if state funding is available, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the city’s health department.

The city is also developing plans to improve medical education, expand the healthcare workforce, and create a uniform healthcare referral system to help reduce barriers to care.

The health department is also partnering with local community organizations, including Planned Parenthood, to understand what services exist in the city and how they can be expanded, according to the release.

The Long Beach City Council also voted Tuesday night to add support for abortion rights and reproductive health legislation to its 2022 legislative agenda.

“Overthrowing Roe isn’t going to end abortions — it’s just going to cause women to go to extreme lengths to do what they’re fundamentally entitled to do,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose district includes Long Beach. . “At least some states, including California, will be a beacon.

“But the burden, once again, will fall on poor women and women of color,” she added, “who may not have the resources to travel out of state to get abortions.”

In 2017, 89% of US counties had no abortion clinics, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies such data in an effort to advocate for abortion rights.

Estimates suggest that about 38% of women of childbearing age lived in counties with no services and would have to travel elsewhere to get an abortion.

A third of those who had abortions in 2014 had to travel more than 25 miles one way to get to a facility.

In 2017, according to Guttmacher, 40% of California counties did not have clinics offering abortions, and 3% of California women lived in those counties.

Such disparities were in play last month, when Martinez introduced a motion to prepare the city for the potential influx of people from other states seeking abortions in California.

“A woman’s right to an abortion is crucial in our fight for equality in America,” Martinez said. “We cannot ask women to risk their lives by revoking their right to a safe medical procedure.”

The motion, if passed, would direct the chief legislative analyst to coordinate the city’s response with the Los Angeles County Departments of Health Services and Public Health.

The chief legislative analyst would identify how the city could respond to a possible increase in demand for abortions in Los Angeles.

Elsewhere in the county, officials on Tuesday called on California to codify abortion rights in the state — and Congress to do the same at the federal level.

Governor Gavin Newsom joined State Senator Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Congressman Anthony Rendon, D-Long Beach, in proposing a California constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to abortion.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, a candidate for the House of Representatives, also called on Congress to abolish the filibuster and pass legislation protecting access to abortion services.

“Congress must codify Roe v. Wade into law, abolish the outdated obstruction that stands in the way of progress,” Garcia said in a statement, “and California and Long Beach must remain a beacon and sanctuary for women who seek access to abortion care.”


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