‘A pinnacle of women’s rights’: Potential Roe v. Wade reversal sparks concern

Photo of Roe v. Wade protest for abortion rights on Sproul
Can Jozef Saul/Staff
Following a leaked Supreme Court opinion draft, UC campuses organized rallies and statements in response to the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade.

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Concerns for the future of women’s reproductive rights have risen in Berkeley and beyond after Politico leaked a Supreme Court opinion draft that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Hundreds of Berkeley community members have since taken to the streets in protest, while various UC campuses and the UC Student Association are working to issue statements in response, according to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Riya Master.

“To see it potentially overturned or somehow mitigated in my lifetime is something I never imagined happening,” Master said. “It’s definitely scary.”

While reversing Roe v. Wade would unravel a constitutional right to abortion access, the California legislature has announced plans to make the state a “sanctuary” for those seeking abortions, including individuals from neighboring states that might render abortions illegal.

UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky added that he expects California will allocate additional funds to support women from states where abortions will be outlawed. He also anticipates additional funds will be available for women who cannot afford to travel to get an abortion.

“What was released on Monday was a leaked draft opinion,” Chemerinsky said in an email. “It could change before the final decision is released between now and the end of June. But it is clear that there are five votes to overrule Roe, now or soon.”

Viewing Roe v. Wade as “a pinnacle of women’s rights,” Master believes the potential overturn is much larger than a change in healthcare access. Rather, she sees it as part of a spiraling trend and fears the decision could lead to a “slippery slope” for the future of reproductive rights.

She noted that while some states, such as California, have made a commitment to offering abortions regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, pushback from some states has mounted over the years.

“What was even scarier is that I wasn’t even that shocked,” Master said. “It’s just another really awful thing on top the other awful things.”

In opposition to the leaked opinion draft, several UC campuses are holding a joint rally on Tuesday. Some campuses, such as UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, have been more proactive about spreading the word, Master said.

She also expressed concern about the rally’s turnout at UC Berkeley given it takes place during the campus finals week.

Meanwhile, in the EAVP office, Master has been working to bolster funding for medicated abortions on campus and ensure the menstrual equity bill passed last year can be implemented across the UC.

“Women throughout history have been fighting for their rights tooth and nail,” Master said. “Have faith in your voice and believe in your power.”

Contact Mallika Seshadri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.