The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade on Friday, sparking outrage throughout the vastly pro-choice Bay Area and the state. So what does this move mean for Californians?
Here’s what you need to know:
Question: Can I still get an abortion?
Answer: Yes. The reversal of Roe v. Wade won’t limit abortion access in California, where the right to the procedure is protected several times over. In fact, California is considered one of the most accessible states in the country when it comes to abortion. The California Supreme Court upheld the right to choose the procedure in 1969 — more than three years before Roe v. Wade — and in 1972, the state amended its Constitution to enshrine the right. In 2002, the state enacted the Reproductive Privacy Act to guarantee a woman’s right to choose.
Q: So if the procedure is still legal in California, why would the Supreme Court decision have any impact here?
A: With more than half of the states in the U.S. poised to fully or partially ban abortions now, experts expect California will see an influx of women coming in from out of state to get the procedure. After Texas outlawed most abortions last year, dozens of patients have come to the Bay Area seeking the service, according to local affiliate Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group, estimated California could see an increase in the number of people seeking abortions of anywhere from 12% to 3,000%, depending on how strict other state’s anti-abortion laws are.
California abortion providers worry the surge in demand will impact everything from security at their clinics to wait times for services. And it’s not only women seeking abortions who may be affected — Planned Parenthood offers everything form prenatal care to hormone treatment for transgender patients.
Q: What is California doing to prepare?
A: Planned Parenthood has ramped up staffing and is expanding services at six locations, including in West Oakland. In May, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 245, which eliminates out-of-pocket costs for abortion-related services — essentially making the procedure free starting next year for patients with health insurance. In budget negotiations, Newsom and state legislatures have agreed to allocate tens of millions of dollars to help people seeking abortions from out of state. Legislators also are considering a package of bills to help California meet the surge, which could do everything from increase the number of providers to protect practitioners from liability.
And California voters likely will see the issue on their November ballot. A bill moving through the legislature would ask Californians to vote on whether to amend the state constitution to guarantee the right to an abortion. The Constitution already protects the right to privacy, which has been interpreted to cover the right to an abortion, but with this vote, Californians could explicitly enshrine the reproductive right.
Q: What is the law here around abortion, anyway?
A: Abortion is legal in California for any reason up until the fetus can survive outside the womb — about 24 weeks. After that, the procedure is legal only if the pregnancy threatens the health or life of the mother. Patients under the age of 18 do not require parental consent.
Q: What does it cost to have an abortion?
A: Private insurance and Medi-Cal are required to cover abortions, but the procedure still can cost hundreds of dollars, even with insurance. The average out-of-pocket cost for a medication-induced abortion is $306. For a surgical procedure, it’s $887. Starting next year, all abortion-related services in California will be free if you have insurance.
Q: Could abortion become illegal in California?
A: As soon as the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in May, experts began speculating whether a nationwide abortion ban could follow. Republicans have hinted they may consider imposing federal restrictions on the procedure, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, recently warned that if Republicans gain control of the House and Senate, abortion soon could be outlawed nationwide. But just as Democrats couldn’t get the votes they needed to guarantee the right to an abortion this year, Republicans likely would struggle to ban it in the near future.
(Staff writers Lisa Krieger and Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this story.)