(BCN) – leaders of the Bar Association of San Francisco and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office announced the launch of what is now called the Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights on Wednesday.
The alliance aims to provide access to legal aid for people seeking abortions, as well as service providers who want to stay on the right side of the law. The launch is a local response to the likely reversal of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This initiative is to essentially defend abortion rights and in the event that Roe v. Wade is indeed struck down, provide legal assistance to people who may be seeking abortions.” said Jen Kwart, communications director for the City Attorney’s Office. “The main goal is to protect or defend people who might be seeking abortions or medical providers who might be providing abortions from any sort of criminal or civil prosecution.”
Initially, LARR will hit the ground with 20 Bay Area and national law firms and has received positive feedback from health care providers, such as the San Francisco Marin Medical Society and Planned Parenthood Northern California.
Bar Association of San Francisco President Mary McNamara said in a press release by the City Attorney’s Office about the launch announcement, “The spirit of San Francisco has moved our legal community to defend against the current threat to basic reproductive rights. Law firms responded instantly to the looming crisis presented by punitive trigger laws and proposals to criminalize abortion in a number of states.”
The Bar Association of San Francisco executive director and general counsel Yolanda Jackson said, “The Bar Association of San Francisco has a long history of supporting reproductive justice. We stand for the rights of every citizen to be treated with equal dignity under law.”
Organizers say that the alliance will take on cases to defend abortion lawsuits in California and out of state, as well as represent providers who have been subpoenaed, medical professionals in need of legal guidance, affirmative litigation and partner with public defenders in states that criminalize abortions.
The organization was created in direct response to the leaked Supreme Court legal memo that indicated the high court is in position to reverse Roe v. Wade, Kwart said.
Right now, the organization will focus on growing its legal team and working on its internal infrastructure to get in touch with people in need as they are not sure exactly how abortion rights might change in the upcoming weeks and months, according to Kwart. The press release says they will be operational later this year.
City Attorney David Chiu said in the release, “This is the most precarious time for reproductive rights in our lifetimes. I’m grateful our Bay Area legal community is stepping into the fight to defend access to reproductive healthcare and protect those in need of legal assistance. During this moment when fundamental rights are at stake, we welcome legal communities around California and our country to join us.”
San Francisco Marin Medical Society president Dr. Michael Shrader said, “The end of Roe v. Wade promises to bring large numbers of vulnerable, pregnant women to California seeking care, including abortions. As physicians, we are committed to seeing that such care is available to them, but some are likely to need legal assistance as well for various reasons.”
The San Francisco Marin Medical Society is joining the Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights to ensure that women can receive proper care, while also providing legal assistance to the physicians if necessary.
Chiu in the press release said he is dedicated to the Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights’ missions as well as to ensuring San Francisco is a safe place for pregnant women to come where reproductive rights are protected.
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