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‘Roe’ threatens, California leans as abortion haven

SACRAMENTO, California. – California Democrats have accelerated their plan to make the nation’s most populous state a haven for women who want abortions, spurred by the release this week of an early draft U.S. Supreme Court ruling that sparked a wave of activism in the The state’s vast network has unleashed vendors and stakeholders.

The draft – which could change if a final decision is expected to be issued next month – would end nearly 50 years of federal protections against abortion. Just hours after a leaked copy was released, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s top legislative leaders said they would seek voter consent to make abortion a constitutional right in California, a move that will put the state ahead of future court decisions and a possible federal ban on abortion should Republicans gain control of Congress.

On Thursday, Democrats in the state legislature sped up a bill that would prevent other state statutes from imposing civil or criminal penalties on anyone who performs or assists with abortions in California, and with it another likely lengthy legal battle over the trigger state sovereignty.

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The California Legislative Women’s Caucus has asked Newsom for $20 million to pay women from other states that ban abortion to come to California for the process — a sum the governor revised in his next week budget proposal could announce.

In just 48 hours after the draft judgment was released, California’s only statewide nonprofit that helps women travel in and around the state to obtain abortions raised $25,000 — a quarter of their normal annual spending — while receiving a spate of calls by people who volunteered to donate free rides or housing to women who want to end their pregnancy.

For Madilynne Hoffman, California’s preparations are reassuring. The 22-year-old mother of two terminated her pregnancy in December at an abortion clinic in the state’s Central Valley.

When she later returned to another clinic for birth control, she said a protester followed her to her car. This experience, coupled with the drafting of the court’s verdict, prompted her to seek volunteer opportunities in clinics.

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“It’s really sad to think that women have to fight for their bodies,” she said. “It should just be an automatic right.”

The California legislative effort represents the opening salvo in the next phase of the abortion rights battle that will play out among state governments, who will have to make and enforce their own rules if federal protections are abolished. Republican-led states like Oklahoma and Idaho have already passed more restrictive abortion laws in anticipation of the court ruling.

Meanwhile, democratic states like California are passing legislation to expand access to abortion.

The Democrats, who control all the levers of power in the state government, wrote 13 bills that would authorize more medical providers to perform abortions, create grants for reproductive health professionals, prevent other states from accessing some California medical records, and a fund for taxpayers’ money would help pay women in states where abortion is illegal to come to California to get the procedure. A measure making abortions cheaper by banning co-payments and deductibles has already been signed into law.

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Meanwhile, abortion providers are busy hiring more doctors and making room to receive a projected surge in patients. Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Planned Parenthood’s largest subsidiary nationwide, is renovating and building new facilities in Oakland, San Jose, Fresno, Visalia and Reno, Nevada. When they are finished, she will increase her capacity from 200 to 500 patients per week.

“We’ve been preparing for this for over a year — and honestly since November 2016,” when Republican Donald Trump was elected president, said Andrew Adams, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s chief of staff and head of strategic communications.

Anti-abortion advocates are also preparing by increasing staff and support at crisis pregnancy centers. These centers, which are often located near abortion clinics and are religiously affiliated, try to persuade women to forego an abortion for adoption or other options.

Some of these centers in conservative states receive public funding in the tens of millions. California was hostile to these centers and passed a law requiring them to inform clients about abortion services. The US Supreme Court overturned this law in 2018.

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“We believe this is a way in which people of faith and the pro-life community can really help put our money where our words go,” said Jonathan Keller, president and CEO of the anti-abortion California Family Council . “No woman should ever feel that abortion is the best option for her.”

Although abortion has been legal in every state, it is not readily available everywhere, especially for people living in poor or rural areas. There are nearly 100 “abortion funds” across the country that help these women pay for things like travel, housing and childcare that they need to keep their appointments.

As of Monday, a national digital fundraising platform for these groups has raised about $1 million, according to Sierra Harris, associate director of network strategy for the National Network of Abortion Funds.

California has a statewide abortion fund known as Access Reproductive Justice. According to Executive Director Jessica Pinckney, the group helps around 500 women each year, about a third of whom are from out of state. Each woman receives an average of $300 to $400 in support.

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That doesn’t pay off for everything. To fill in the gaps, the group relies on a group of 50 main volunteers willing to provide rides, lodging and extra money. One of those volunteers is Harris, who lives in Oakland.

Since the pandemic, most of the aid Harris is providing is cash. As a mother of two young children, Harris recalled a time when she lent a hand to buy another woman a plane ticket so she could travel to have an abortion. The woman was also a mother and later sent Harris a card referring to her as an “angel.”

The woman said her help has enabled her to “raise the kid that I have,” Harris said. “I think about it all the time.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/06/roe-under-threat-california-leans-in-as-abortion-refuge/ ‘Roe’ threatens, California leans as abortion haven

Justin Scacco

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