If you think reproductive rights are safe in California, you’re not paying attention | Opinion

There is no way to say this without causing alarm or disbelief, but there is a coordinated effort by conservative think tanks to erode women’s rights in this country — and it’s already started to succeed.

If you thought the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision marked a turning point in the war against women’s rights, just wait until you hear what’s next on the agenda; because even if you think you’re safe in a blue state like California — you most certainly are not.


Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos are considered “extrauterine children,” and that anyone who destroys them can be held liable for wrongful death. This is one of the first major legal wins for the “fetal personhood” movement, which seeks to extend the anti-abortion movement into embryonic stages and punish women for exerting control over their own health.

“The Alabama decision is exactly what people have been talking about,” said Jodi Hicks, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “This is what it means to not have bodily autonomy, to not have rights over your healthcare, over gender affirming care, over all the decisions that we should have the ability and right to make. This is the result.”

No woman should be forced to carry a fetus, because it is a shameful — and often deadly — attack on a human’s right to make autonomous decisions. But even if you believe a fetus or embryo has the same rights as a born child, forcing one human to sacrifice their body for another human sets a precedent for a brave new world no one should wish to live in.

“It’s been less than two years (since Roe fell) and we have half a county who have lost their reproductive rights and the protections we’ve been afforded for almost 50 years,” Hicks said. “That was by design.”

The oxymoron that is “fetal personhood” and the subsequent stripping of women’s bodily autonomy is just one tentacle of the insidious “Project 2025.”

The ultra-conservative agenda

Project 2025 is a plan to reshape the U.S. federal government to support the agenda of Donald Trump, creating an America that never truly existed except in the minds of fascists and racists who seek to ensure that the white American population remains dominant, that men hold power, women are subservient to their husbands and every American child — again, just so long as they’re white — is part of a nuclear family with the Christian god at its head.

It is being organized by The Heritage Foundation, which has more than $20 million in its budget, and in collaboration with more than 80 partners, including Turning Point USA, led by Charlie Kirk; the Conservative Partnership Institute, with former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as a senior partner; the Center for Renewing America, led by former Trump-appointee Russell Vought; and America First Legal, led by Stephen Miller, a former senior advisor in the Trump Administration.

Page 455 of “The Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise” states: “Because liberal states have now become sanctuaries for abortion tourism, (the Department of Health and Human Services) should use every available tool, including the cutting of funds, to ensure that every state reports exactly how many abortions take place within its borders, at what gestational age of the child, for what reason, the mother’s state of residence and by what method.”

And that’s just from one page. This is a playbook to further strip women of their rights, keep us under control and track our personal medical decisions so that a conservative federal government can intercede and punish us if they disapprove.

This fight has never been about protecting children or saving lives. If it were, Mason Herring, a Texas man who tried to induce abortion in his estranged wife by drugging her with abortion pills, would have gotten more than a mere 180 days in prison. This is about controlling women and keeping us submissive to the whims of certain men.

Alabama, Texas and Mississippi may be another political world from Californian, but that’s exactly the kind of mindset that keeps us blind to the political machinery that has already changed our lives for the worse.

The legacy of Dobbs

The very case that overturned Roe v. Wade — Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — came out of Mississippi. Very likely, this IVF case in Alabama will also be appealed to a higher court. We cannot trust the Supreme Court to overturn the Alabama decision. At least three Alabama IVF clinics have shuttered since the decision came down on Feb. 16, with likely many more to come.

The only way to stop these attacks on women is to pass the long-since-dusty Equal Rights Amendment, which will enshrine in the Constitution the fair and equal treatment of all Americans, regardless of their sex.

“We need to take the time to learn what every single policymaker is voting on and where they stand on protecting reproductive freedoms,” Hicks said. “We’ve instituted a lot of protections here in California, but we are still at risk if we elect national leaders that are not willing to fight for reproductive freedoms — or worse, willing to pass a ban on abortion.”

None of us should feel safe and all of us should invest in supporting and passing the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023 — federal legislation that would federally guarantee access to abortion, across the country, and restore the right to comprehensive reproductive health care for millions of Americans.

Extreme views on reproductive rights will not stop until they have stripped women, children, the queer community and people of color of their rights. That fight starts right now, with Californians caring just as much about the women living in Mississippi, Texas and Alabama as we do about ourselves and our neighbors living in a “safe” blue state.