LOS ANGELES, May 2, 2023 — One year after the leak of a draft Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined the Southern California Legal Alliance for Reproductive Justice (SoCal LARJ) to uplift the alliance’s legal aid efforts and the launch of a new hotline. The alliance is made up of law firms across Southern California that offer pro bono services for those in need of legal help related to abortion and other reproductive care. The California Department of Justice and a group of advocacy and grassroots organizations, including, among others, Planned Parenthood, Access Reproductive Justice, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, and the National Women’s Law Center, serve as the alliance’s advisory committee. The alliance is headed by a steering committee comprising UCLA Law’s Center on Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy; the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney; the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Together, the diverse group of members will work to ensure California remains a safe haven for anyone seeking an abortion — a key priority for Attorney General Bonta in his continuing fight to defend reproductive freedoms.
“Today marks a dark anniversary for all of us. One year ago, we first learned that a radical Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was looming — a decision that would come to undermine the rights and endanger the health of millions of people,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta.“In the wake of this decision, as reproductive freedoms have faced unprecedented attacks nationwide, California has remained a beacon of hope and safety. We have fought back through our legislature, through the courts, and through information, partnership, and advocacy. This initiative is another important resource that brings together legal, advocacy, and government partners united in the fight for reproductive justice. To those in need of abortion-related legal help: You are not alone. California’s legal community is here to support you.”
“The magnitude of the fallout from Dobbs is becoming disturbingly clearer by the day, but this powerful legal community is standing together,” said Lara Stemple, Director of SoCal LARJ. “Unforgiving abortion bans and the devastating health consequences that follow are galvanizing advocates, providers, and law firms. Some firms have been involved in these issues for years, but many others are new to the fight.”
“As reproductive rights are rolled back in more than a dozen states, SoCal LARJ is dedicated to ensuring that California remains a safe haven for bodily autonomy and choice,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto. “As the first woman in my role, I am committed to and focused on this cause. The new legal hotline launching today could very well be a lifeline.”
“Wow, it’s been one year since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Although we continue our fight for reproductive justice, California’s abortion access is stronger and has given many of us hope,” said Gabrielle Brown, Program Coordinator at Black Women for Wellness. “Access to the full spectrum of reproductive and sexual health care, including abortion is critical to our community as Black birthing people. Not only should we be able to decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy, but we should also have access to the care and resources that support us in doing so. SoCal LARJ’s legal hotline will be a crucial resource for Black women in Southern California, providing help and making connections for anyone with legal questions related to reproductive health care.”
“One year after the leak of the Dobbs v. Jackson SCOTUS decision, abortion access is stronger in California as we have continued the important work to be an access state for those seeking abortion care, ” said Jessica Pinckney Gil, Executive Director at ACCESS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE, California’s only independent, statewide abortion fund. “Barriers to accessing abortion care in California and beyond still exist, but with the support of coalitions like SoCal LARJ, we take important steps towards getting all individuals, providers, and advocates working to increase access to abortion the tools they need to whittle away at those very barriers and make Reproductive Justice a reality for all.”
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, anti-abortion states have passed an array of laws that criminalize abortion and threaten the safety and legal freedom of those seeking or providing reproductive care. These laws have sown terror and confusion among patients and providers who may fear legal and criminal repercussions for seeking or performing reproductive services. The threat of jail times, fines, or protracted legal battles have already caused providers to deny critical care and forced patients to turn to unsafe measures. In Texas, for example, a pregnant woman was forced to carry a dead fetus for two weeks after experiencing a miscarriage because of her providers’ fears about violating Texas law. Another Texas woman who went into early labor at 18 weeks was forced to wait until she was too weak to walk, had a 103 degree fever, and contracted sepsis — a life-threatening medical emergency — before her doctors agreed she was sick enough to legally end her pregnancy.
SoCal LARJ was created to fight the climate of fear and uncertainty brought about by such laws by making legal help and guidance related to abortions and reproductive care available for all those who need it. The alliance aims to provide a wide range of legal services at a time when the resources of reproductive care providers and advocates are being stretched as never before.
The alliance also aims to provide a wide range of legal services to support reproductive care providers and advocates, including:
- Compliance advice concerning shifting abortion restrictions, including the treatment of pregnancy-related conditions;
- Support for amicus briefs to advance reproductive rights and justice;
- Representation for anyone facing civil or criminal penalties for seeking, providing, or assisting in reproductive care;
- Advice on protecting sensitive health-related data;
- Referrals to local and national law firms, several of whom have licensed attorneys in a range of states; and
- Legal support for corporate, tax, employment, or other matters so providers and advocates can focus on their mission.
More than 45 law firms in Southern California have already joined SoCal LARJ. Its effort will be guided and supported by the following members of the advisory committee:
- The California Department of Justice
- Access Reproductive Justice
- California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
- California Women’s Law Center
- FPA Women’s Health
- Lawyers for Good Government
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- NARAL Pro Choice America
- National Women’s Law Center
- Planned Parenthood Los Angeles
- Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
- Planned Parenthood San Gabriel Valley
Attorney General Bonta has been at the forefront of the fight for reproductive rights in the nation. The office of the Attorney General brings this nationwide experience defending and expanding reproductive rights to uplift the coalition’s efforts as part of the SoCal LARJ advisory committee. More information on the Attorney General’s work to defend reproductive rights is available here.
Individuals and entities with legal questions or in need other legal assistance related to reproductive care, are encouraged to call the SoCal LARJ hotline at 310-206-4466.
More information about SoCal LARJ can be found here.
The Attorney General cannot represent individuals or provide legal advice. However, complaints and tips from concerned residents are critical to developing information about patterns or practices that may lead to formal investigation or an enforcement action by our office. Californians who believe their right to reproductive healthcare, including accessing abortion, has been violated may file a complaint at: https://oag.ca.gov/report.
Californians who have been the victim or target of deceptive, misleading, unfair, or unlawful conduct related to crisis pregnancy centers should immediately file a complaint at: https://oag.ca.gov/crisis-pregnancy-center-complaint.