OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a statement in defense of reproductive rights ahead of tomorrow’s oral argument before the United States Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization — a case involving the constitutionality of Mississippi’s pre-viability abortion ban. In September, Attorney General Bonta led a coalition of 24 state attorneys general in filing a multistate amicus brief opposing Mississippi’s law and urging the Court to reaffirm half a century of precedents protecting an individual’s right to decide before viability whether to carry a pregnancy to term. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on December 1, 2021.
“This year, in states across the nation, we’ve fought back against attack after attack on basic reproductive rights and freedom,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The choice of whether to carry a pregnancy to term is one of the most personal an individual can make, and tomorrow the right to make that decision will be in the hands of the highest court in this country. The stakes are high, but what we ask is simple: The Supreme Court should not overturn the precedent established in Roe v. Wade, and should instead preserve the right to choose. Millions of individuals over multiple generations have ordered their lives around the constitutional guarantee recognized in Roe v. Wade, and there is no basis for retreating from that precedent now.”
In March 2018, the governor of Mississippi signed into law what was the strictest law in the country when it was signed into law. The law prohibits abortion at 15 weeks, with few exceptions, even in cases of rape or incest. A federal district court judge struck down the law, observing that Mississippi “chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional...to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade."
In the amicus brief filed in September, Attorney General Bonta and the coalition argued that Mississippi’s ban is unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade and Mississippi had not made its case for overturning five decades of precedents establishing a viability line. That line ensures states cannot entirely prohibit abortions before viability. In the brief, Attorney General Bonta urged the Court to maintain that line and avoid Mississippi’s request to overturn all of Roe v. Wade.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending Californians’ reproductive rights, whether they are in California, or working, travelling, or attending school in other states. Mississippi’s attempt to undo decades of Supreme Court precedent comes amidst years of attempts by other states to strip individuals of their right to decide what is best for their bodies and futures.
A recent report from the Guttmacher Institute found that if Roe were overturned or weakened, “21 states have laws or constitutional amendments already in place that would make them certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible.” These laws would greatly reduce access to safe and legal abortion and lead to vast abortion deserts in large areas of the country. According to the study, the number of individuals without access to abortion care in their home state who would find the closest clinic in California would increase almost 3,000 percent. Individuals with the financial means to travel would be forced to leave their home state to seek abortion care in states like California, while others without such means would be forced to carry their pregnancy to term. Studies reflect that the health and socioeconomic consequences of such pregnancies fall disproportionately on racial minorities and the poor.
Attorney General Bonta has been a vocal defender of reproductive rights, and will continue to challenge laws that unlawfully infringe upon reproductive freedom.