Nayelli Zechman and Nathalie Hrizi lead the protest down Market Street in San Francisco on Tuesday in opposition to the Supreme Court’s draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Garrett Isley / Golden Gate Xpress) (Garrett Isley)
Nayelli Zechman and Nathalie Hrizi lead the protest down Market Street in San Francisco on Tuesday in opposition to the Supreme Court’s draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Garrett Isley / Golden Gate Xpress)

Garrett Isley

California reacts in anticipation to Roe v. Wade overturn

Women fight to protect their sexual and reproductive health rights

May 5, 2022

The internal memo obtained by POLITICO of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade sent shockwaves across the country. 

Roe v. Wade, decided almost 50 years ago, guarantees federal protections for women regarding reproductive rights and declared that access to legal abortion is a constitutional right. 

If the U.S. Supreme Court follows through and issues this opinion, it would cause the states to fracture into those that allow abortion and those that ban it. 

SF State Political Science Professor Amanda Roberti said while things could change, she’s not sure how severe the impact will be.

“Those of us who have been watching the abortion fight – have noted that we were going to get an opinion like this one that would significantly weaken Roe, or overturn it completely,” Roberti said. “So this wasn’t much of a surprise, only that the time that it came out was a surprise.” 

This announcement came on the heels of a decision last fall by the U.S. Supreme Court to let stand a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.

On May 2, California Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Vice Chair Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) criticized the opinion stating, “It’s about equity. This will be the first time my generation will lose a fundamental right, the right to choose.” 

On Jan. 20, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus announced a united effort to strengthen and expand access to abortion with a partnership with the California Future of Abortion Council, a statewide coalition of reproductive freedom, sexual and reproductive healthcare allies, partners and leaders.

“The leak was a draft document,” Roberti said. “Abortion is still legal right now. Roe v. Wade is still the law – and because it’s a draft, also things could change in it, although I‘m not sure to what degree things will change.’’

Protest at Phillip Burton Federal Building

Hundreds of protestors gathered near the San Francisco Phillip Burton Federal Building Tuesday evening to voice their opposition to the draft opinion.

“We want abortion on demand and without apology,” said Margaret Lee, an attendee.

The movement was organized by the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice, San Francisco Chapter.

“We are out here today to defend our reproductive rights and we will stop at nothing to have our voices heard,” said Robin Campell. 

Governor Newsom and top legislative leaders committed late Monday to put an amendment on the ballot this November to amend the California Constitution that will protect the reproductive rights of women and make abortion a Constitutional right in California.

“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,” Newsom said in a joint statement with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins.

The case in question, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court before the end of the June term.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is challenging a Mississippi ban on abortion. The state of Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to rule there is no constitutional right to abortion, thus overruling the seminal case of Roe v. Wade.

Members of the Women’s Caucus have made women’s reproductive rights a priority for 2022. They submitted a package of 13 pending bills addressing the nationwide threat to women’s reproductive rights in accordance with recommendations from the Future of Abortion Council.  

“We will never yield, we will never give up until a women’s right to choose is permanently protected,” said Mayor London Breed in opposition to the leaked SCOTUS draft opinion at the rally Tuesday evening.


Protest from Powell & Market Streets

Hundreds in San Francisco took to the streets in protest of the U.S. Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion to overturn abortion rights. Protestors gathered on Powell and Market Street.

Nayeli Zechman, a 20-year-old design student at SF State, felt desperate and angry about the news. 

“I had to get out and say something,” Zechman said. 

Attendance quickly grew as the march began. Protestors took up half of Market Street and chanted “racist, sexist, anti-gay, Christian fascist go away,” as they marched towards the Women’s Building, a women-led non-profit arts and education center located in San Francisco’s Mission District. 

“The Supreme Court has declared war against women and our basic rights to control our own bodies,” said an organizer of the protest for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, in a statement. “The elitist Supreme Court is threatening war on women’s rights and the only force capable of putting a stop to them is the people of the United States mobilizing and organizing to defend our rights.”  

Initially published by POLITICO, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Roe v. Wade, “must be overruled,” because the Constitution makes no explicit reference to abortion. Alito continued in the draft to claim that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start,” and its reasoning was “exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.” 

A reversal of Roe v. Wade would leave abortion policy up to individual states. It is likely abortion access would remain accessible in Democratic-led states, while Republican-led states would pass severe limits or complete bans on the procedure. 

“Oppression in all forms is really important to me to speak out against,” said Isabella David, an SF State student. “If all you want is a child born, but not a child fed, educated or housed you’re pro-birth not pro-life.”

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About the Contributors
Jensen Giesick, Staff Reporter
Jensen Giesick (she/her) is a reporter for the Golden Gate Xpress. She's majoring in journalism and minoring in holistic health. Jensen was born in Bakersfield, California but resides in San Francisco. She interned at Embarcadero Publishing this past summer writing a variety of different articles. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family and playing with her new puppy, Dixie.
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Jocelyn Hernandez Gomez
Hello! My name is Jocelyn Hernandez Gomez. I currently live in San Francisco, but I'm from San Jose. I enjoy music, reading and creative writing. I have worked in many student run publications as both a staff reporter and an editor. 
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Garrett Isley
Garrett Isley is a photographer from San Diego, CA. He is a senior photojournalism major at SF State covering arts and cultural events across San Francisco. When he doesn’t have a camera in his hand, you can find him skating, at the beach or drawing in the park.
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Abraham Fuentes, Staff Photographer
Abraham Fuentes (he/him) is a photojournalism major with a minor in political science at SF State. He is the photo editor for Xpress Magazine. He is a Sonoma County, California native and lives in Santa Rosa, California. Abraham loves to take photos with his film camera; his favorite film stocks are Kodak 400TX and Cinestill 800t. He hopes to tell stories through photography.

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