In wake of abortion decision, LA County Health Department stresses its options for women

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Friday decried the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down Roe v. Wade, calling it “shocking in its disregard for the health, rights, and dignity of half of the U.S. population.”

At the same time, the health department highlighted the county’s “Safe Haven Abortion Project,” which “seeks to improve access to abortion and to the full spectrum of reproductive health services for Los Angeles residents and for people who travel here from states where abortion is no longer an option.”

“Access to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, is fundamental to the health of individuals, families and communities,” according to a health department statement.

Friday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision striking down the 49-year-old Roe ruling sends abortion policy back to individual states, many of which have restricted or outlawed the procedure in recent months.

California officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, have vowed to keep the state a safe haven for women seeking abortions, with Garcetti joining 10 mayors from across the country in issuing a joint statement supporting abortion rights.

In anticipation of Friday’s decision — a draft of which first leaked last month — the county has been gearing for an influx of women from other states where abortions will be illegal who will be seeking the procedures here. UCLA’s Law Center on Reproductive Health, Law and Policy recently published a study estimating that anywhere from 8,000 to 16,000 people will travel to California per year for abortions.

“Many states will now make abortion illegal; in some states, abortion is illegal as of today,” Friday’s health department statement said.

“Overall, we expect that as a result of this decision, it will eventually become nearly impossible for people to get an abortion in more than half of U.S. states. The patchwork of laws across the country will create confusion, fear and chaos for people who need abortion services.”

The health department stressed, “Make sure your friends and families know: In California and here in L.A. County, abortion remains safe and legal.”

The agency’s statement also stressed what it said would be inequities as a result of the high court’s decision.

“We know from decades of research that the impact of criminalizing abortion falls hardest on people who already struggle to access health care, including abortion,” the department said.

“This includes low-income women, women of color, immigrants, youth and LGBTQI+ people, many of whom will now potentially face the prospect of forced childbirth. All people, both residents of L.A. and those residing elsewhere, must have access to safe, legal, high quality abortion services.”

For more information, go to publichealth.lacounty.gov/owh/Abortion.htm.

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