We decided to revamp this important story with an important update.
With the overturning of Roe V. Wade, California is considering a host of reforms to ready itself for the influx of women from other states seeking legal and safe abortions. California’s legislature, care providers, and even individual citizens are preparing to help their fellow Americans from over the state border in their hours of need.
The California State Legislature is considering a package of 13 bills aiming to improve access to abortion and reduce costs. These bills range from protecting women from law enforcement to financial assistance for those seeking abortions. Governor Gavin Newsom has pledged $125 million to back these initiatives.
A personal story
“The goal is to really enshrine and ensure that California is a reproductive freedom state for all,” says state Assembly member Buffy Wicks, a representative of part of Oakland.
In 2019, Wicks publicly shared her own abortion story, becoming the first lawmaker to do so on the floor of the California Assembly.
“I was 26 years old, in between jobs and in between homes,” she said in 2019. “Staying on a friend’s couch, unemployed. And facing an unplanned pregnancy was a vulnerable time in my life.”
After receiving help from Planned Parenthood, Wicks went on to work with Barack Obama on the campaign trail and then in the White House. In 2018, she won her seat in the California State Legislature, and she is now married with two daughters.
“For me, having an abortion was an empowering decision,” she says, “one that I have never regretted.”
Wicks shared another story of her experiences with abortion. Not knowing she was pregnant, she’d had a miscarriage, and her doctor told her that they needed to perform an emergency abortion procedure.
This is an instance where abortion is a life-saving procedure, which laws in certain states could easily scare doctors out of performing. Many women in need will likely be traveling to California to seek abortion providers. A report from the Guttmacher Institute predicted that demand for abortion in California would rise by 3,000 percent, from 46,000 to 1.4 million. One bill proposed in the package is setting aside state funds to help women who have traveled from out of state for an abortion.
This is one of many laws on the books in California and other potential sanctuary states preparing for a sudden increase in demand for their abortion providers. One bill that Wicks proposed herself states that no woman can be prosecuted or terminated for aborting a pregnancy.
With Roe V. Wade’s overturn, certain US states like California, and Connecticut, are becoming better prepared to deal with the change in policy and abortion access and safety. And it’s not just the government and care providers getting ready.
Individuals in California are opening their arms and their cars to their fellow Americans in need.
Californian volunteer Lee Mitchell posted on Facebook: “If you are a person who suddenly finds yourself with a need to go camping in another state friendly towards camping, just know that I will happily drive you, support you, and not talk about the camping trip to anyone ever.”
Mitchell is offering rides from the airport in San Francisco to legal care providers for any abortion-seekers coming to California, in addition to a place to stay. It’s the kind of support she wished she had when she came to California from Minnesota for her own procedure.
“I lived in Minneapolis. I looked and looked and back then, there were no sources,” she remembers. “So I had to pay the money to fly to California.”
Mitchell had two more abortions before Roe V. Wade was passed, both in DC. before birth control was commonplace. Now that it is overturned, Mitchell is furious but she is doing what she can to help her compatriots in need.
This story was originally published June 6, 2022.