A U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that federally legalized abortion in all 50 states, returning authority to the states to regulate — including ban — abortion as they see fit elicited both criticism and praise among Riverside County lawmakers.
“The Supreme Court has taken the extraordinary action of stripping American women of the right to control their bodies,” Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, said. “The court is unrestrained in rolling back the rights of women. … This dark decision breaks our hearts, but we must not allow it to break our spirits. A new generation is now called upon to ensure that it does not have less rights than their parents’ generation.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Temecula, countered in a social media post that “this is a great day for the Constitution to be recognized for what it says,” referring to the 6-3 majority court opinion that found no historic basis for validating Roe v. Wade in the first place.
“I will always stand for life and defend the unborn,” Issa said earlier.
Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, condemned the court’s decision for “throwing out nearly 50 years of precedent.”
“I am outraged and undeterred to protect women’s access to reproductive health, including the right to an abortion,” the congressman said. “Everyone must be able to have a say in decisions that impact their bodies, lives, health and futures.”
Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, posted a celebratory message on Twitter declaring “Roe is overturned!”
“Be prepared for the Left to try to hurt others because their ability to kill innocent babies is taken away,” the mother of five added.
Earlier, Melendez had questioned the logic behind pro-abortion groups’ positions, particularly touting women’s rights, when “aborting would-be daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers silences them before they even have a chance to speak a word.”
Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, called the decision a “a dark day in American history.”
“For those who remember Roe v. Wade, it seems unimaginable that we would come to this day,” he said. “To the people across our nation who are upset, angry and scared, California is with you.”
Abortion remains legal in California. A constitutional amendment was introduced in May that proposes to enshrine abortion rights in state law. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation eliminating co-pays for abortion services.
Other states have already enacted laws outlawing abortion except under narrowly defined circumstances.
The decision upending Roe v. Wade was predicated on an appeal heard by the High Court in December, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which originated from an abortion provider who sued the state of Mississippi over a law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority, joined by Justices Amy Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, with a concurring opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts. Alito said that “without any grounding in the constitutional text, history or precedent, Roe imposed on the entire country a detailed set of rules for pregnancy divided into trimesters, much like those that one might expect to find in a statute or regulation.”
The majority called the Roe decision “egregiously wrong,” noting any suggestion that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was drafted in the post-Civil War era to ensure equality under the law in the guarantee of civil rights that freed slaves didn’t previously enjoy, “clearly does not protect the right to an abortion.”
By some estimates, between 60 million and 70 million abortions have occurred between 1973 and 2022 nationwide, according to published reports.
“The majority would allow states to ban abortion from conception onward because it does not think forced childbirth at all implicates a woman’s rights to equality and freedom,” according to the court’s dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights and of their status as free and equal citizens.”
In early May, a copy of the draft opinion in Dobbs was published by Politico, which received the decision from unnamed sources. Publication ignited protests, including some outside the homes of justices, whose lives were threatened.
Roberts announced an investigation to track down the source of the leak, which legal observers called unprecedented.
No suspects have been identified.