Oakland, CA — Today, Oakland joined a coalition of 14 other cities and counties, in partnership with a national nonprofit, Public Rights Project, in urging three leading federal agencies that play roles in law enforcement to immediately ensure that they play no part in criminalizing seeking or providing abortion and other crucial reproductive health care. Addressed to the heads of the United States Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Transportation, the letter presses each of these agencies to issue guidance instructing their enforcement officers not to participate in investigations or other law enforcement activities relating to the criminalization of abortion.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court issued the lawless and mendacious decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, restrictive and punitive abortion laws have taken or shortly will take effect in nearly half of states in our country. Some of these laws ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, when the fetus has a fatal disease and cannot survive after birth, or when the pregnant person’s life is at risk. These laws place both pregnant people and healthcare providers at serious risk.
The letter also pushes the federal agencies to limit information sharing and other actions that might support local and state actors in their prosecution of pregnant people, providers, and others relating to abortion care.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe was a tragic and unprecedented assault on the rights and bodily autonomy of pregnant people,” said Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. “Oakland is committed to doing everything within our power to protect the fundamental right to reproductive freedom in this country. We are asking the federal government to help us in this work to fight back against the Court’s lawless campaign to undo the monumental progress we’d seen over the last 50 years.”
This letter is part of a broader effort by local governments to ensure access to abortion care. The Oakland City Council, for example, recently passed a resolution declaring the City of Oakland a Pro Choice Sanctuary City.
“Cities and counties are making extraordinary efforts to overcome the harm the Dobbs decision has already caused,” said Jill Habig, Founder and President of Public Rights Project. “We applaud this coalition of city and county partners in fighting for justice and using all available tools to maintain access to critical, lifesaving health care. We know the federal government can and must do more for its part, too.”
In addition to Oakland, the following cities and counties signed onto the letter: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore, Maryland; Chelsea, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; Milwaukee County; City of New York, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; San Francisco, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota.