Nicholas Goldberg: Karen Bass says she’ll protect Angelenos’ abortion rights. But can the mayor of L.A. really do that?
Angelenos, we’ve talked about the city ordinance that bans abortion on some medical grounds. It didn’t sit well with Angelenos or politicians. So Karen Bass, with some friends, tried to find the right words to explain it. They got a letter from the mayor’s office, and it read, “Dear Mayor Bass: The City Attorney’s Office has advised me that it would appear to be appropriate to rescind the City’s previous policy of pre-emptive or emergency abortion coverage for women who have been terminated. As such, the City will take the necessary steps immediately to have the City’s ordinance declared unconstitutional for the reasons set forth in the letter.” Bass said she’s going to fight for what she considers constitutional protections. Can a city manager tell the mayor what the law is?
Karen Bass: It seems at first glance that the attorney’s letter is a response to my effort to change the abortion-coverage requirement. The letter does not mention me; and if it did, I would be the first one to oppose such a change. The most powerful people in the city of Los Angeles do not speak for me, and I do not speak for them.
Nicholas Goldberg: So, you’re asking for a judge to invalidate an existing city regulation?
Karen Bass: Absolutely not. The City Attorney’s office is making a political argument, and has done so many times in the past few years. Since I have a constitutional right to an abortion without government interference, I don’t understand what this is about.
Nicholas Goldberg: So, a judge is going to decide whether we have the right to make this change. If we lose that argument, the question becomes what we’re going to do next.
Karen Bass: What we can do next is to find someone who can write a constitutional amendment that defines the right to an abortion and protects it from any intrusion either by legislative action or other administrative or judicial action. That amendment must be adopted by both houses of the legislature, and it must be approved by a majority of the voters in a ballot referendum.
Nicholas Goldberg: So, just as soon as the city takes action against you, you’ll go to the ballot to fight it?