Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Amicus Brief Defending Women’s Access to Safe, Legal Abortion

Friday, October 4, 2019
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of 20 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in support of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, in the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, et al. v. State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health, et al case. In the brief, the attorneys general argue that Mississippi’s law, S.B. 2116, enacted a near-total ban on abortion by making it a criminal offense to perform one if a heartbeat is detected. This limits the period that abortion would be legal to six weeks, when most women don’t even know they are pregnant. The coalition asserts that this law restricts women from exercising their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability under Roe v. Wade. Further, they argue that contrary to Mississippi’s claims, this near-total ban would result in worse maternal health outcomes.

"This law is yet another attempt to trample and undermine women's reproductive rights," said Attorney General Becerra. "As we see more and more states pass these harmful laws, we will continue to fight against these unlawful attempts to restrict a woman’s right to choose. Here in California, we are proud of having the lowest maternal mortality rates in the country.”

The coalition argues that limiting or eliminating women’s access to safe and legal abortion leads to worse health and socioeconomic outcomes. These outcomes include forcing women to endure negative pregnancy side effects, the limitation of physical activity, restriction from full-time employment and increased reliance on publicly funded safety-net programs. The brief describes the different ways that states promote women’s health without impeding women’s rights upheld by the constitution.

The filing of this brief is Attorney General Becerra’s latest effort in the fight to protect women’s reproductive rights. On April 12, 2019, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing a brief in support of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, arguing that state laws cannot prohibit a woman from exercising her rights ensured by Roe v. Wade. On March 8, 2019, Attorney General Becerra filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rule that places restrictions on Title X, the nation’s family planning program. The rule restricts access to preventive healthcare and prohibits referrals for abortion. In addition, Attorney General Becerra has the charge in defending the Affordable Care Act and protecting affordable healthcare coverage for millions of Americans. 

In filing the brief, Attorney General Becerra is leading a coalition consisting of the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the filing can be found here.

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