The United States Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe v. Wade in a decision Friday, dissolving a constitutional right to abortion access at the federal level.
In a 5-3-1 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts filing a separate opinion, the court’s majority opinion decided that access to abortion services is an issue to be left to the state’s to decide, and many have already decided to cut access with “trigger laws” set to go in effect within 30 days. On the West Coast however, Oregon, Washington and California announced a multi-state commitment to maintain abortion and contraceptive care access across state lines.
“We will not sit on the sidelines and allow patients who seek reproductive care in our states or the doctors that provide that care to be intimidated with criminal prosecution,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement. “We will fight like hell to protect our rights and our values.”
UC President Michael Drake said in a statement that the court’s decision was “antithetical” to the university’s values and that the university will continue to offer access to “evidence-based” reproductive services for patients, students and staff to make decisions for themselves.
In a campuswide statement, Chancellor Carol Christ called the decision “profoundly personal, alarming, and distressing,” saying it was unfathomable to see freedoms that her generation was granted not be available for future generations. Christ added that she was “heartened” by the commitment of Newsom and campus’s University Health Services, or UHS, providers to offering comprehensive reproductive all those who seek it.
“This is a sobering moment for many of us at the University of California and throughout the nation,” Drake said in the statement. “Today, we stand with California leaders and health care advocates who are taking critical steps to protect Californians’ human rights and their access to affordable and convenient health care choices.”
In addition, the concurring opinion of Justice Clarence Thomas signals that other issues regarding state rights may be examined by the court in the future. The opinion language specifically cites cases that determined landmark decisions including access to contraceptives and same-sex marriage.
Campus law professor Khiara Bridges noted in an analysis before the decision was solidified that the court’s opinion would have immense impacts on the health and livelihood of people nationwide. She added that the decision in particular would disproportionately impact low-income women of color.
Bridges also examined possible legislation in states that may seek to incriminate both providers of abortion care and people who seek to terminate their pregnancies.
“I fully expect that after Roe falls, we will punish pregnant people who intentionally terminate their pregnancies,” Bridges said in the earlier analysis. “The people who will be swept into our carceral system then will be the ones who are already overrepresented in that system now — Black people, Latinx people, poor people and people with disabilities.”