Senate Leader Atkins: Roe Anniversary Remains Moment for Celebration of Progress, Work Ahead
SACRAMENTO – Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) today released the following statement ahead of what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade:
“On January 22, we celebrate the more than five decades of relentless, courageous activism that carried us to this moment and the advances in reproductive rights that people rely on every day. The countless providers who have stepped up for their communities and those in need, sometimes in the shadows and at great personal risk. The fact that here in California, leaders from city hall to the Capitol are fired up and fighting back. Dobbs was not our defeat, it was our rallying cry, and we should celebrate the work that continues and stridently support all those who are championing the cause.”
The 2021-22 Legislative Session resulted in incredible strides in the advancement of reproductive rights in California, led by Pro Tem Atkins, members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus (LWC), and Budget and Fiscal Review and LWC Chair Senator Nancy Skinner. Those accomplishments were also achieved thanks to close collaboration and partnership with the California Future of Abortion Council and health care advocates across the state.
The work began in the fall of 2021 and the necessity for it was underscored in May 2022, when a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court made it clear that Roe v. Wade was likely to be overturned, ending 49 years of federal constitutional protections for the right to abortion. In a historic move, Pro Tem Atkins, in partnership with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and a large coalition of Democratic legislators, responded by introducing a constitutional amendment to explicitly enshrine the right to abortion and to choose or refuse contraception in the State Constitution. On June 27, just three days after the Supreme Court issued its final opinion overturning Roe, the amendment passed its final legislative requirement and in November, was approved by a large majority of voters. This was the first time that California voters had the opportunity to add the right to abortion and contraception to the state constitution, further solidifying California’s longtime standing as a nationwide leader on reproductive rights.
Last year, the Legislature passed and Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law more than a dozen bills and included over $200 million in the state budget to shore up reproductive rights, protect abortion providers and patients, and expand access to reproductive health services and abortion. Pro Tem Atkins’ SB 1375 was among the bills signed into law. SB 1375 allows qualified nurse practitioners to provide abortions without the supervision of a physician, giving more people the ability to receive the timely, essential care they need from a provider they trust. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2023. SB 24, legislation Pro Tem Atkins co-authored with former Senator Connie Leyva in 2019, also went into effect on the first of the year, making medication abortion services accessible at all University of California and California State University campus health centers.
Early in her career, Pro Tem Atkins worked as an administrator at a women’s reproductive health clinic, where she saw firsthand the critical need to ensure access to safe healthcare for women and people of all ages. Since then, she has been dedicated to increasing access to reproductive health care services, expanding the number of qualified providers who can perform early abortions, and making health care more accessible and affordable for all Californians.
Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins