By Toni G. Atkins
As June begins, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on an issue that is intensifying throughout our state and our nation, and to highlight the hope that lies in the work California is doing to address it.
The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling that is anticipated in the weeks ahead carries with it the potential to overrule the abortion protections of Roe v. Wade — a right that many have never lived without — and one that other states are poised to strip away soon after the fall of Roe.
As I told a crowd of hundreds of women, LGBTQ folks, reproductive rights allies and advocates at a “Bans off our Bodies” rally at the Capitol last month – not on our watch. Not in California.
While extremists are attacking our rights by tearing down reproductive rights, responding with oppressive opinions, instead of empathy, to survivors of rape and incest or those facing difficult health considerations because of their pregnancy, my colleagues and I – with the support and solidarity of reproductive rights organizations – are expanding and protecting abortion access in California.
The Legislative Women’s Caucus began preparing for this possibility long before the majority draft Supreme Court opinion leaked to the press, and there are 13 bills that have been introduced to increase access to safe, equitable and affordable abortion and reproductive health care for all Californians, and for those who may need to seek care here.
That responsiveness, that collective mission, gives me hope. As does the gains we are making on this front.
Last week was the deadline for bills to pass out of their House of Origin. I am proud that SB 1375, my bill to expand abortion and reproductive health care services in California, was among many that advanced to the Assembly. I also announced last month that I will be introducing a Constitutional Amendment to appear on the November 2022 ballot to ensure that our reproductive rights are explicitly stated in California’s constitution.
We are also in the final weeks of working on our 2022-23 state budget. While the details are being worked out as you read this, California’s commitment to protecting and expanding reproductive rights is inherently clear, and an area where there is already much alignment.
After marching with Californians from all walks of life in both Sacramento and San Diego, it is clear that there are many of us who will use our voices and our votes to challenge these attacks on our individual rights. And with Pride celebrations gearing up all over the country, we will join the fight with our flags flying and our Pride carrying us forward, sending a clear message that we will also not bend to those attacking our LGBTQ loved ones, children, and communities, nor will we back down if the fight for marriage equality is next to be dismantled by the Supreme Court.
I am confident in California’s response to the recent attacks on our freedoms, and I remain hopeful for the future of our state and all who live here.