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    When the People Decide

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    On Election Day 2022, reproductive rights were on the minds of voters as they went to the polls. In the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Services U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the future of reproductive rights, health, and choice—and all the privacy issues they impact, including LGBT rights—have been a source of uncertainty and extreme concern. This is especially true since abortion trigger laws went into effect in over a dozen states within weeks of the Dobbs decision. Abortion trigger laws are statutes implemented in anticipation of the overturning of Roe, which would go into effect once that occurred. Some laws went into effect immediately, while others went into effect 30 days after Roe was overturned.

    The courts and the state legislatures, which are, despite strides, predominantly male and against reproductive freedoms, are not willing to pay attention to the majority of Americans who are pro-reproductive health and choice. The people needed to find a way to let their voices be heard. This past Election Day, this idea was put to the test. In three states, California, Michigan, and Vermont, voters decided to enshrine abortion rights in their respective state constitutions. In Montana and Kentucky, two states that are considered unshakably conservative states, anti-abortion ballot measures failed.

    Propositions that enshrined abortion rights in state constitutions will allow individuals and families to continue to have the freedom to determine what is best for them and their families, giving people the ability to plan their lives and make important reproductive decisions without government interference. By expressly stating the right to choose to have an abortion or to carry a child is a fundamental right in a state constitution, the ballot measures that protected reproductive rights will help protect against potential future attacks. California’s Proposition 1, which I strongly supported, including cosponsoring a successful Oakland City Council resolution in support of Prop 1, was backed by an overwhelming number of California voters.

    Reproductive freedom is intertwined with many issues of social justice, such as economic, gender, and racial equity, and LGBT rights; therefore, a strong support system for reproductive freedom is vital for many needs. We know access to reproductive healthcare should not depend on your zip code, and people should be able to access reproductive healthcare without medically unnecessary barriers or restrictions.

    Since Roe has been overturned, this recent election shows that the public wants to protect reproductive rights. So far, we the people have done a better job of upholding and protecting the reproductive rights of women than the courts or state legislatures.

    Councilmember At-Large and Council President Rebecca Kaplan, who is the Vice Mayor of Oakland, was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016 and 2020. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( and Facebook

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