US 'blue states' gird for abortion fight

·3-min read

Clinics close to airports; training for out-of-state medics and a raft of legislation rushing through the state assembly: California's fight to keep abortion available to Americans redoubled Tuesday.

The liberal state -- America's most populous -- is leading the charge against the conservative-dominated Supreme Court, which is expected to throw out the federal law allowing abortion, giving states the right to make their own rules on one of the country's most divisive issues.

"California has long, long recognized the fundamental right to privacy and to control over one's own body," California senate's acting president Toni Atkins said Tuesday.

"And now we are going to make sure that right is enshrined in our (state) constitution. I will be introducing a constitutional amendment that will make it crystal clear that reproductive rights in California including and specifically abortion are protected.

"We will not back down. We will double down."

A draft from the Supreme Court leaked on Monday showed the country's top justices were readying to throw out the 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling that enshrined a woman's right to an abortion.

The leak ignited fury among supporters of abortion rights, who have been watching warily as conservative states -- led by Texas -- have begun chipping away at the bedrock law.

Democratic governors of blue- and blue-leaning states including California, New Mexico and Michigan swiftly announced plans to enshrine abortion rights into law even if the court overturns Roe.

"We have a Supreme Court that does not value the rights of women, and a political minority that will stop at nothing to take those rights away," California Governor Gavin Newsom said.

"They are undermining progress, and erasing the civil protections and rights so many have fought for over the last half century.

"We have to wake up. We have to fight like hell. We will not be silenced."

- 'Extremist' -

Abortion providers said they were already working on providing services to women travelling from other states.

"We know one in four (women) will need abortion services in their reproductive lifetime," said Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

"That doesn't go away because extremist politicians put forth bans."

Planned Parenthood operates about half of the 165 abortion clinics in California.

The organization has said it is treating about 80 patients from other states every month since Texas adopted a law allowing civil action against abortion providers.

Sue Dunlap, president of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, said she has spent the last few years reorganizing the network of clinics to put them closer to transport hubs like airports or bus stations.

"Los Angeles is a place that people identify with ideas of freedoms," Dunlap said, according to Calmatters.org. "Los Angeles is also a place that, when you don’t know where to go, you come here."

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, which covers parts of California and Nevada, said on its website that it had treated dozens of out-of-state patients in the last few months, and was expanding to cope with more, with a new center opening this year.

"Reno's new state-of-the-art health center will have increased space for abortion services (and will be) conveniently located near the Reno airport and other transportation hubs, making it an ideal location for local and out-of-state patients."

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