LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Local and state Democratic officials are vowing to protect abortion rights in response to a report the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark protections offered by the Roe v. Wade decision that has dictated policy on the issue since 1973.
``It's time for Congress to get off the sidelines,'' Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, tweeted in response to the report. ``We must protect the fundamental right to choose.''
Politico reported Monday that the nation's highest court has voted to strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling. Politico obtained what it called a draft ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito that opines, in part, ```Roe' was egregiously wrong from the start.'''
``We hold that `Roe' and `Casey' must be overruled,'' the document states, according to Politico. ``It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives.''
Politico noted that the document is only a draft and could be changed dramatically, or even fundamentally changed, before it is published and finalized this summer.
But news of the ruling sparked a flurry of concern from some Democratic California elected leaders.
``Make no mistake, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, women will be harmed and some will die,'' Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California tweeted Tuesday morning. ``It happened before Roe became law of the land and it will happen again, particularly since this decision will harm low-income and at-risk women more than anyone.
``I remember the days when abortion was illegal, when we would pass the hat at Stanford to collect money so a classmate could go to Mexico for an abortion. Overturning Roe would return us to those dark ages where women don't have safe, open access to reproductive care. This would be unconscionable.''
Feinstein added she routinely asks Supreme Court nominees if they will respect Supreme Court precedent. ``Without exception, all nominees agree that precedent is critical to our judicial system,'' she tweeted.
She concluded her tweet with: Generations of women have relied on protections provided by Roe. This dangerous, ill-conceived opinion must not become law of the land.
``Our daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers will not be silenced,'' Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted. ``The world is about to hear their fury. California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell.''
Newsom has already stated that he would work to ensure California is a safe haven for women seeking abortions or other reproductive health care, regardless of where they live. Striking down Roe v. Wade would allow individual states to set limits on abortion.
Later Monday night, Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, and Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, released a statement that they would propose ``an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state.''
``We know we can't trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution,'' the statement said. ``Women will remain protected here.''
The proposed amendment is unlikely to have much of a practical effect because of existing state laws.
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, said ``if this draft is in fact the position of the Supreme Court, this is a heartbreaking day for our nation.
``As a direct result of wrongheaded, backwards ideology, decades of established law and precedent will be at risk of being overturned and if that happens, women across our country will pay the price, with low income women of color experiencing the most severe impact,'' said Bass, a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles.
``Let's put the politics aside and call this what it is -- this is an example of powerful men deciding only they should make life and death decisions over women's lives -- not women and not even doctors. This has to be a call to action to fight for women's freedom and all of our freedoms at the national level and at the local level.''
The other front-runner in the mayor's race, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso, tweeted, ``I profoundly disagree with the draft decision that was made public tonight. If it becomes final, the justices in the majority will have taken away the rights of millions of people in this country and put lives in jeopardy.
``My position has always been clear. Like most, I support a women (sic) right to choose and if made final, this will hurt many of our fellow Americans.
``As a father who is pro-choice, I'm proud to live in a city and state where women's reproductive rights are respected and protected.''
Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez wrote on Twitter, ``5 justices, the majority of whom were nominated by presidents who LOST the popular vote, are dictating to 166.7 million women across the country that they don't get a say in what happens to their body. This is enraging. We must fight back. We WILL fight back. Elections matter.''
County Supervisor Janice Hahn wrote, ``Expected but no less devastating. This is a direct attack on poor women in red states who, in a few short months, will either be forced to spend thousands of dollars they do not have to travel to a blue state, or be forced to carry a pregnancy to term that they do not want.''
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, added, ``Not a single justice knows what it's like to be one of the 10+ million single parents in America. I do, and I support a woman's right to choose.''
Rep. Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, said if the ruling reported by Politico is finalized, ``it would be devastating for women everywhere.''
``The radical majority (on the Supreme Court) would be throwing away decades of precedent and jeopardizing the health and lives of women,'' he wrote on Twitter. ``It's beyond shameful. Remember this November. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Women's Health Protection Act, which would codify `Roe' into law. The Senate needs to act on this legislation. The filibuster must not continue to be used as an excuse.''
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, wrote on Twitter, ``In case there was any doubt: the clock is ticking down to the end of legal abortion if Congress does not act. It's time to #abolishthefilibuster and make the Women's Health Protection Act law. In the meantime, abortion is still legal, and it's still a right."
On its social media channels, Planned Parenthood posted, ``Let's be clear: This is a draft opinion. It's outrageous, it's unprecedented but it is not final. Abortion is your right -- and it is STILL LEGAL.''
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, wrote that the draft opinion ``makes one thing abundantly clear: we simply can't afford to wait. The Senate must send the Women's Health Protection Act to (the president) now to protect access to safe abortion care and save lives.''
Mark Gonzalez, chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, said the nation is ``at the crossroad where rights either have to be protected by a judicial decision or by law due to the extreme positions of those who want to roll back our nation's progress. Abortion rights must be codified into law and Congress must act NOW to protect women in this nation.''