MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
California wants to be a sanctuary state for abortion. That is in sharp contrast to nearly half the states in the U.S. that are expected to ban or restrict abortion care if and when the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. From member station KQED in San Francisco, April Dembosky reports.
APRIL DEMBOSKY, BYLINE: On the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, state lawmaker Buffy Wicks became the first woman to tell her own abortion story on the floor of the California assembly.
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BUFFY WICKS: Staying on a friend's couch, unemployed and facing an unplanned pregnancy was a vulnerable time in my life.
DEMBOSKY: Wicks was 26 at the time. She went on to work for Barack Obama for six years, then later won her seat in California's legislature. She's now 44 and has two young daughters.
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WICKS: Having an abortion was an empowering decision - one that I have never regretted.
DEMBOSKY: Then one day last September, she was preparing lunch at her kitchen counter when she felt a sudden wave of severe cramping in her abdomen. Then she started bleeding a lot. She rushed to her doctor.
WICKS: Turns out I was pregnant and having a miscarriage, and she said, we need to do an emergency abortion procedure.
DEMBOSKY: This was all happening right after Texas banned abortions after six weeks. Wicks asked her doctor if she would have been able to get the procedure she had just received if she lived in Texas.
WICKS: And she said, well, legally, yes, because the pregnancy wasn't viable. But in reality, there is a chilling effect across the state of Texas right now where doctors are scared to perform these procedures.
DEMBOSKY: If Roe is overturned, California is anticipating a 3,000% increase in the number of people coming from out of state for abortion. That's why Wicks is now supporting a package of 13 state bills designed to care for them.
WICKS: We're ensuring that we as a state are ready to accept the potentially 1.4 million women who will come to California to seek safe and legal abortion and that we're prepared for that.
DEMBOSKY: One bill that's already been signed will eliminate copays for abortion. Planned Parenthood attorney Lisa Matsubara says other bills would provide more funding and training so clinics can expand abortion services.
LISA MATSUBARA: By increasing staffing, increasing appointment slots, expanding and building new facilities.
DEMBOSKY: Other bills are focused on legal protections. That's because the Texas law allows members of the public to sue anyone who helps a person get an abortion, and other states are looking to do the same. California wants to stop that.
MATSUBARA: To really protect not just patients but also providers from any attempts by other states to reach in and penalize folks.
DEMBOSKY: In addition to more patients coming from out of state, California is also expecting more anti-abortion protesters from out of state.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Going to see Wicks. We're going to go to the house of Buffy Wicks today.
DEMBOSKY: Some have already come here.
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DEMBOSKY: Just a few weeks ago, a convoy of trucks drove to the Bay Area. A stream of semis and pickups sporting American flags parked outside Buffy Wicks' house to protest her support of abortion legislation. A couple men shouted into their bullhorns.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: This is a direct assault on humanity.
DEMBOSKY: Wicks' neighbors did not welcome the convoy. One woman with long neon yellow nails gave them the double finger.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Go home.
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DEMBOSKY: Other people pelted the trucks with eggs.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Go home. Go home. Go home.
DEMBOSKY: Nearly 80% of Californians believe Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. Buffy Wicks says she's not slowing down. In fact, she and her colleagues are looking for ways to speed up their work of making California an abortion sanctuary for all. For NPR News, I'm April Dembosky in San Francisco.
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