Concerned over the possibility that the Supreme Court may soon overturn Roe v. Wade, thus ending the federal legalization of abortion, San Diego’s city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to declare the city a safe place for “reproductive freedom and access to abortion.”
The move “carries no legal weight and wouldn’t matter much if it did because abortion is expected to remain legal in California regardless of any federal changes,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Yet, the city council went ahead with the declaration, anyways, characterizing it as an important symbolic gesture and a message to the pro-life advocates around the country.
In the resolution, the city council claimed that San Diego has a responsibility as the second-largest city in California to “serve as a model and commit to support and defend the right to reproductive freedom and safe access to abortion services.”
“No matter what happens with the Supreme Court ruling, no matter who you are or where you come from, no matter the color of your skin or your socioeconomic status, I want everyone to know that you are welcome in the City of San Diego to exercise your reproductive rights,” said councilmember Stephen Whitburn, who spearheaded the measure, in a press release.
“I want all San Diegans who are scared and frustrated about this potential ruling to know that you have members of this city council and a Mayor that have your back, and we will not back down,” he added.
Should the Supreme Court end the constitutional right to an abortion by overturning Roe — as it is widely expected to do according to a draft opinion leaked last month — decisions about the controversial issue will be left entirely to individual states.
In the resolution, council members noted that as many as 26 states in the U.S. may decide to ban abortion entirely. The Hill reported that 13 states already have trigger laws in place that would severely restrict abortion immediately upon Roe being struck down.
“We are bringing forth this resolution to send a message — that the City of San Diego will not stand for an assault on women’s rights,” added councilmember Marni von Wilpert in a statement.
San Diego is believed to be the first city in the country to formally make such a declaration. However, Democratic leaders in several states have made similar commitments in verbal responses to the top court’s leaked opinion.
The Hill noted that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) addressed the issue in a press conference, saying, “Let me be clear, no matter what atrocious opinion the Supreme Court officially rolls out this summer in regards to Roe v Wade, abortion is safe and legal in Illinois.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has similarly declared, “As mayor, I have one message to anyone worried about access to abortion care … Chicago’s doors are open. We unequivocally respect you and your choices.”
Yet, again, such declarations will have no legal impact whatsoever.