Reproductive rights have become a topic of national conversation since the May 2nd leak of the Supreme Court’s draft of a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. With this leak, access to reproductive healthcare nationwide suddenly appears to be up in the air.
However, if you live in California, you may have more options regarding your health than you’d think. An overturned Roe v. Wade would undoubtedly have significant national consequences. Still, it shouldn’t impact California residents directly unless your medical team chooses not to respect your reproductive rights. Here’s what you need to know about the impact of an overturned Roe v. Wade, your reproductive rights under Californian law, and what to do if your healthcare team isn’t giving you the treatment you need.
What Overturning Roe v. Wade Might Mean
The landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade and the 1992 follow-up case Planned Parenthood v. Casey have been pillars of case law and precedent for decades. Roe was the case in which abortion became legal nationwide, while Casey reaffirmed that decision.
They do more than that, however. Roe is also the case that established the “right to privacy of autonomy.” This is the right to make personal decisions for yourself without government interference. Supreme Court decisions that rely on Roe as precedent include Obergefell v. Hodges, which permitted same-sex marriage, and Plyler v. Doe, which established that undocumented children have a right to an education.
However, overturning Roe also weakens other decisions that relied on similar logic and the 14th Amendment. For instance, Griswold v. Connecticut, the case that guaranteed the right to birth control, uses very similar logic. An overturned Roe would put that nationwide right at risk by undermining the legal arguments involved.
In the leaked draft decision, Justice Alito states that by overturning Roe and Casey cases, the goal is to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” Should the decision be confirmed, abortion would immediately become illegal in 13 states with so-called “trigger bans” that will go into effect as soon as Roe is repealed. Furthermore, three states still have pre-1973 bans on the books, and numerous others would likely take action to ban abortion shortly after the decision.
What Are Your Reproductive Rights in California?
So, where does this leave California residents? Should Roe be overturned, it will return the right to make decisions over abortion to the state, which means state laws will be in effect. Luckily, the state is one of several that actively protects abortion as a right.
In fact, California law protects multiple forms of reproduction rights. The state’s constitution and other laws state that:
- Everyone has the right to use or refuse to use birth control
- Every woman has the “fundamental right” to choose to get an abortion instead of bearing a child
- Every woman has the “fundamental right” to decide to have a child instead of getting an abortion
- The state may not deny or interfere with these fundamental rights unless the pregnancy is 24 weeks along, at which point the fetus is considered potentially viable outside the womb
- Public and private insurance providers must include coverage for abortions and birth control
Essentially, if you live in California, you not only have the right to an abortion, but you also have the right to birth control and to have these rights covered by your insurance.
What to Do If Doctors Don’t Respect Your Reproductive Rights
Of course, just because you have a legal right to specific care doesn’t always mean that your rights will be respected. Unfortunately, if Roe is overturned, it may give doctors, insurance companies, and other healthcare institutions the idea that they can violate your reproductive rights.
Violations of your rights include:
- Denying you or insisting you get an abortion
- Denying you or forcing you to take birth control
- Refusing to cover your abortion or birth control under your insurance
If you’re facing any of these issues, you can and should take action against the healthcare professionals harming you. They aren’t just violating your rights; they may also be committing malpractice. If you need to take action, you can take the following steps.
1. Know Your Rights
Some refusals may be due to ignorance of the law. While an individual doctor can refuse to perform an abortion or prescribe birth control, they cannot prevent other doctors from doing the same. If one doctor isn’t respecting your rights, you have the option to get in touch with another doctor who will.
2. Get the Refusal In Writing
Before you find a better medical team, though, you should get the refusal in writing. Whether a doctor refuses to prescribe you birth control or insists you carry a pregnancy to term, insist that they include your request and their refusal in your medical chart.
Similarly, if your insurance refuses to pay for coverage required by California law, get their refusal in writing. This is critical evidence that they are violating the law and possibly committing HMO malpractice. Having written proof is invaluable if you choose to go to court.
3. Get Legal Help
A refusal to respect your health rights can have lasting effects on your health. If your healthcare team or insurance refuses to help you get an abortion, you’ll be forced to remain pregnant longer, which can have devastating health consequences for many people. Furthermore, refusing to prescribe or cover birth control can lead to hormonal disruptions and unwanted pregnancies.
If you’ve suffered any of these consequences, your healthcare providers are likely committing actual medical malpractice. Get legal help as soon as possible to hold them accountable for their negligence.
Stand Up for Your Reproductive Rights in California
California has some of the broadest and most secure laws protecting reproductive rights in the country. Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Californians will still have access to legal, safe abortions and birth control. Still, it’s essential to understand your rights in case your healthcare team attempts to violate them.
If you think your reproductive rights are already being ignored, you may be a victim of medical or HMO malpractice. Schedule your free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your case and learn what you can do to make sure your rights are respected.