SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Local and state Democratic officials are vowing to protect abortion rights in response to a report that 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 might soon 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.
Chief Justice John Roberts reiterated that point Tuesday, saying the draft "does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case."
But news of the ruling sparked a flurry of concern from many 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.
"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 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.
Nathan Fletcher, chairman of San Diego County Board of Supervisors, released the following statement Monday night: "This draft opinion is wrongheaded, regressive and creates an uneven landscape for the reproductive rights of women across our country. We need Congress to act and pass the Women's Health Protection Act and I vow to continue to fight for a woman's right to choose what they do with their body."
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria took to Twitter to express his willingness to battle the ruling.
"If tonight's news reports are accurate, it appears our worst fears about this #SCOTUS may come true, and women will be robbed of the Constitutional right to exercise control over their bodies. If #RoeVWade is overturned, we must do all we can to secure reproductive rights," he wrote. "I will stand with you and fight with everything I have."
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."
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."
Congressman Darrell Issa also released the following statement:
The Supreme Court of the United States embodies more than just America’s highest judicial power. It holds a sacred trust that is bound up in our nation’s highest ideals. After yesterday’s media leak of a draft opinion, however, that confidence is deeply shaken.
Today marks the most significant threat to the Court since Marbury vs Madison. And it is essential that the Court repair both its image and standing in the eyes of the nation. Chief Justice Roberts has taken a solid first step in announcing a comprehensive investigation.
The truth is, obstructing a judicial proceeding is a crime, as is the willful intimidation of the Justices. If that is the objective of this leak, it must not succeed. That’s why a full internal review by the Court is absolutely necessary.
I will always stand for life and defend the unborn. But no matter one’s personal views on this issue, we are all Americans and we all share an equal stake in the integrity of the Supreme Court.