Assemblymember Gregg Hart | Credit: Courtesy

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Tuesday affirming their support for abortion rights and Roe v. Wade. The vote came on the heels of Santa Barbara’s Women’s March for Reproductive Rights on Saturday, in which thousands of demonstrators marched up State Street from De la Guerra Plaza as part of a nationwide protest against anti-abortion legislation.

Supervisors Joan Hartmann — one of the resolution sponsors — noted that the Texas anti-abortion law that went into effect last month will effectively bar six million Texas women of childrearing age of a medical choice that had been deemed constitutionally protected since 1973. 

This August, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the new Texas law — which bars abortion after six weeks of gestation and allows for the prosecution of anyone who assisted in enabling the abortion to take place aside from the mother — effectively letting it stand. Since the past year, more than 600 bills to restrict abortions have been introduced in 26 states. The Supreme Court is scheduled to review a Mississippi bill this term that would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade, and given the current makeup of the court, the outcome appears certain. 

“We can’t go backwards to the dark ages,” stated Supervisor Gregg Hart, who also sponsored the resolution. 

Supervisor Das Williams said the Texas law opens the door to “legal vigilantism” because it creates a hotline where aiders and abettors of abortion can be reported. A far more effective anti-abortion strategy, he argued, would be for anti-abortion activists to support wider sex education, wider access to birth control, and more opportunities for economic improvement. Many anti-abortion activists, he noted, oppose the first two. 

Supervisor Bob Nelson, cast the sole vote against the resolution, explaining he represents a viewpoint and a district that takes “an alternative view of what reproductive rights are.” Nelson added, “I believe since 1973 we have learned so much more about the unborn.” 

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