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Abortion likely to remain accessible in SLO County despite potential Roe v. Wade reversal

Erma Stauffer and Nina Truch participated in a demonstration in Downtown SLO Tuesday evening.
Rachel Showalter
Erma Stauffer and Nina Truch participated in a demonstration in Downtown SLO Tuesday evening supporting abortion rights after the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade.

In a leaked draft opinion, a majority of Supreme Court justices have indicated they plan to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed federal protections of abortion rights.

While abortion rights are more protected in California than in most other states, the Central Coast could still be impacted if the leaked decision is finalized in the court.

The draft opinion is not finalized until published, which will likely happen some time in the next couple of months. And, while the court does have a history of altering draft opinions, this decision could likely become the law of the land.

“This draft opinion confirms our worst fears that the Supreme Court is gearing up to overturn 50 years of precedent and end the constitutional right to safely and legally end a pregnancy," said Jenna Tosh, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Central Coast.

Tosh said if the draft is finalized, 36 million people across 26 states are either certain or very likely to lose the right to receive an abortion. But, Tosh said, abortion services in California will not end.

“There are 13 bills moving in California today to solidify our status as a reproductive freedom state," Tosh said.

Eva and Stryker Peffly came out to a rally in Downtown SLO Tuesday evening.
Carol Tangeman
Eva and Stryker Peffly came out to a rally in Downtown SLO Tuesday evening.

Governor Gavin Newsom also announced a move to permanently protect abortion rights in the state’s constitution, tweeting, "California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell."

Tosh said Planned Parenthood will continue offering care, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the number of people of reproductive age who would find their nearest abortion clinic in California would increase from 46,000 people to 1.4 million people.

“We are already seeing patients in California from all 50 states. The impact on health centers in California is likely to be very significant.”

Rallies are already organizing locally and nationally in response to the court’s decision, including one that happened in Downtown SLO Tuesday evening which included marches and public speakers.

With demonstrations like this in mind, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo political science professor Michael Latner said overturning Roe V. Wade would likely spark a strong voter turnout at upcoming elections.

“The research suggests that there’s a much higher mobilizing effect when people perceive their rights as being taken away," Latner said.

Latner said that while there is widespread support among Republicans for overturning Roe v. Wade, 70 percent of Americans oppose it. He said court decisions like this one are an example of “undemocratic” elements within our country’s electoral systems.

“People ought to be concerned about how political representation works if they are fearful of these sorts of minority rule decisions, and these very unpopular decisions, of which we are going to see many more.”

Locally, the Morro Bay City Council passed a resolution back in January "affirming the city's support of reproductive freedom." City Councilmember Dawn Addis, who is running for State Assembly as a Democrat, told KCBX News the resolution was meant to support abortion rights and those who could be affected by this decision. However, the city does not have an abortion clinic itself.

“It’s important to raise awareness but also because it’s important for everybody in Morro Bay to know that their city council is welcoming, is on their side, is here to defend our constitutional rights," Addis said.

The court’s decision is expected to be finalized by July.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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