CARLSBAD — Dozens of Carlsbad residents took to the intersection of Carlsbad Village Drive and Pio Pico next to City Hall on Tuesday night to rally against a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion appearing to overrule the landmark and controversial Roe vs. Wade abortion decision.
Politico first broke the story of the leaked draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, which was later confirmed to be authentic by Chief Justice John Roberts, who announced the court will be conducting an investigation into the breach.
Most in attendance at the Carlsbad event were women, several of whom fought for the right to legalize abortions in 1973 before the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Warren Burger, guaranteed constitutional protections for women to receive the medical procedure in the Roe determination.
Linda Nelson, 69, organized the rally, which was met with honking cars and passersby waving and cheering. But Nelson said the decision from the majority conservative Supreme Court was not surprising in regard to the Mississippi case prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“The way the justices took the oral arguments, we knew it was coming,” Nelson said. “We were just hoping and hoping they would only go so far in affirming the Mississippi law. If you read the 98 pages … Alito, who is very bright, took a piece from all five (justices) and put it in. Alito said he’s got free reign.”
Nelson, a former attorney for the state of California, recalled protesting throughout 1972 and 1973 and upon hearing the initial Roe decision, was filled with delight. However, she said it felt inevitable Roe would eventually be overturned based on the continued rightward shift of the Republican party.
Nelson said prior to the 1973 decision, California had some protections for women seeking abortions, such as a doctor saying a woman’s health was in danger. But at the time, Nelson said women were scared to undergo abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.
After the May 2 Politico story broke revealing the court’s opinion, Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Sen. Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assemblyman and Speaker Anthony Rendon vowed to pass a state constitutional amendment to protect the legality of abortions and women’s reproductive rights in California.
“California will not stand idly by as women across America are stripped of their rights and the progress so many have fought for gets erased,” the leaders’ statement reads. “We will fight. California is proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state.”
Rep. Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, said if the ruling reported by Politico is finalized, “it would be devastating for women everywhere,” per wire reports.
“The radical majority (on the Supreme Court) would be throwing away decades of precedent and jeopardizing the health and lives of women,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s beyond shameful. Remember this November. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify ‘Roe’ into law. The Senate needs to act on this legislation. The filibuster must not continue to be used as an excuse.”
The court’s decision reverts power back to each state to address abortion with more than a dozen already imposing criminal penalties for women who undergo an abortion. Nelson said in other states with conservative legislatures and governors, criminalization of abortion will be the norm.
According to CBS News, 26 states have laws restricting access to abortions, while 13 have “trigger laws,” which allow their laws to go into effect immediately if Roe is struck down.
Samantha, 27, who declined to give her last name, said she believes the draft opinion opens the door for other marginalized groups to be targeted, such as gay rights, gay marriage and transgender rights.
Samantha said she wasn’t surprised by the apparent action likely to be taken by “this court,” which she called a massive step backward for the country, saying the decision is more about control over women’s bodies and privacy rights than abortion.
Samantha also said those conservative states should provide better access to healthcare, education, contraceptives and more if they are serious about lowering teen or unwanted pregnancies stemming from rape, incest or other criminal acts.
Nelson said the decision may also open the door to an attack on contraception, which will disproportionately impact low-income citizens and people of color.
“This is a moral issue,” Nelson said. “They’re taking a morality issue and codifying it … in essence. I didn’t think I would be back here 50 years later doing this. Why are we doing this again?”