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A LEAKED SUPREME Court draft opinion that appears to overturn the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade has sent shockwaves through the Bay Area and the nation, eliciting strong reaction from people on both sides of the reproductive rights debate.

Late Monday, the news site Politico ran with the story, the authenticity of which was confirmed the following day by Chief Justice John Roberts, who condemned the leak in a memo writing, “To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”

The draft opinion was authored by Justice Samuel Alito, and while it does not necessarily reflect an official decision on the part of the full court — which could issue one sometime around late June — it does set the stage for an intense debate over abortion rights as a pivotal midterm election looms in November.

And in the liberal leaning Bay Area, in a state that has been friendly to the pro-choice movement, the reaction to this week’s news came swiftly and loudly.


In a joint statement between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, the pair late Monday referred to the news as an “abomination.”

“If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years — not just on women but on all Americans,” they said.

California Assembly member Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, also decried any decision to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling.

“It cannot be understated how devastating this decision will be, and how immediately,” said Wicks. “The overturning of Roe v. Wade will take us back half a century, putting lives at risk and eroding basic rights for millions.”

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, also released a statement, saying, “California unequivocally stands for the right to an abortion, no matter what the right-wing zealots on the Supreme Court say. We will fight hard to expand abortion access, here and in other states.”

‘Stunning revocation’

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, had been tweeting about a possible overturning of Roe v. Wade in recent weeks. On Monday, she tweeted, “We all knew the odds, but it is nonetheless shocking to see a Court move towards overturning 50 years of precedent in a stunning revocation of our right to have an abortion. But just as important: this is NOT an official ruling. Abortion is still legal.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom also released a statement saying, “This draft opinion is an appalling attack on the rights of women across this country and if it stands, it will destroy lives and put countless women in danger.”

Jodi Hicks, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, had this to say:

“This is the nightmare scenario we in the reproductive health, rights, and justice space have been sounding the alarm about — especially once SCOTUS had a conservative majority.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, control of abortion policies and law would return to the states. California is, at present, a pro-choice state.

Public protests

Local outrage spilled into the streets on Tuesday as abortion rights groups rallied at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco.

Raging Grannies of the Peninsula announced early Tuesday that many groups and individuals would rally in the afternoon as part of a nationwide response to the news. The national group Women’s March urged supporters to hold rallies all across the country.

The San Francisco rally was organized by the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice. The group’s Norma Gallegos said it is important to tell the courts they have no right to deny this basic need.

“This devastating attack on legal abortion is a call to hit the streets throughout the land,” she said in a news release. “We call on all feminists, working class people, and defenders of human rights to come out to defend and expand Roe v. Wade.”

The national group planned similar rallies at federal buildings around the country.

Women’s March urged supporters to rally in their hometowns at the same time Tuesday at federal courthouses, federal buildings, town halls or town squares to defend abortion rights.

Skyscraper spectacle

But not all the reaction has been in opposition to the leaked Supreme Court opinion. On Tuesday morning, a man who appeared to be an anti-abortion activist was arrested after he climbed Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

The man, who identified himself on social media as Maison Des Champs and calls himself the “Pro Life Spiderman,” was taken into custody after climbing the skyscraper in the 400 block of Mission Street while live-streaming his effort.

San Francisco Police Officer Robert Rueca said officers initially were flagged down at 9:21 a.m. about someone climbing the building and saw someone several floors up from street level.

At about 10:50 a.m., he made his way to the top of the building and officers took him into custody. Rueca said charges were still pending but “at minimum he will be arrested for trespassing.”

The alleged trespasser wrote on his website that he is aiming to raise $1 million for anti-abortion charities.

Bay City News staff writers Jeff Ballinger and Dan McMenamin contributed to this story.