Reps. Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren declared that the Supreme Court going against public opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade represents a threat to democracy and called for the Senate to pass the Women's Health Protection Act at a press conference on Friday outside Mountain View City Hall.
A draft opinion penned by Justice Samuel Alito and backed by a majority of justices threatens to overturn the landmark decision that guarantees Americans a right to abortion. Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Lofgren, D-San Jose, invited 14 other women to stand with them as they spoke. They included Mountain View City Council member Margaret Abe-Koga, who also spoke, along with Lauren Babb, the vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, and Fiona Walters, the president of the Santa Clara County School Boards Association.
Mountain View Mayor Lucas Ramirez stood with the women in a show of support.
"I think when there is a cleavage between the highest court in the land and the people, that confidence can turn to chaos," Eshoo said. "A lack of confidence in our institutions, in our branches of government, is an unraveling of democracy."
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has allocated $3 million in funds for Planned Parenthood as well as $4 million to behavioral health services, in anticipation of people coming to California from states where abortions are banned. Babb said that 80 out-of-state patients have already come to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte after the passage of Texas Senate Bill 8, which restricted abortions to the point that they are virtually impossible to obtain.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that California will become a sanctuary state for those seeking an abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Even with California's efforts to codify the right to access abortion services, Lofgren said that there are other impacts of the draft decision that was leaked on Monday night that could affect people.
"If we think that the erosion of individual liberty is over, think again," Lofgren said. "As Anna (Eshoo) has said, the right to privacy underpins a number of court decisions that give liberty to Americans."
Several Supreme Court rulings, such as the right to same-sex marriage, interracial marriage and access to contraception are all based on the right to privacy. Overturning a key case, according to Lofgren, could threaten these other precedents as well.
Eshoo and Lofgren used the event to lobby for the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.
The bill, which passed the House of Representatives in September but has not yet passed the Senate, would make abortion legal in all 50 states and address the limitations placed on abortions in some states. It would also address specific challenges that affect marginalized communities when it comes to reproductive health.
"Justice (Alito) says that the Constitution does not explicitly state privacy or abortion (as rights)," Eshoo said. "Mr. Justice, when the Constitution was first written, women were not even in it."