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Calif. Attorney General discusses the state being a haven for those seeking abortions

SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:

We've been hearing about Friday's Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade that ended 50 years of federal abortion protection. The case was Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. It was out of Mississippi involving the constitutionality of that state's pre-viability abortion ban. As part of that case, a group of 24 state attorneys general filed a brief urging the court to reaffirm access to abortion as a constitutional right. California's attorney general, Rob Bonta, took the lead on that brief, and he joins us now.

Welcome to the program.

ROB BONTA: Thanks for having me.

DAVIS: You know, the draft opinion of this decision was leaked last month, but did any aspect of the final opinion surprise you?

BONTA: I wouldn't say I was surprised, but the opinion itself is devastating. It's dangerous. It's outrageous. And it's unprecedented as a case in which, for the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court has abolished a constitutional right for the people of this country that has been in place for 50 years.

DAVIS: California is now positioning itself to be a haven for those seeking an abortion. How do you anticipate handling the legal and logistical challenges to that?

BONTA: We're going to work through them, led by our values. And there are many legal components that are moving our legislature, is moving legislation through the process to the governor's desk that will address logistics and the legal components. So we're going to follow the law. In the state of California - right now the law in state of California is very supportive, making California a haven in its support for reproductive health care and right to an abortion.

DAVIS: In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Supreme Court should reconsider other past rulings that codified things like same-sex marriage. You know, California did pass Proposition 8, prohibiting same-sex marriage back in 2008, though it was overturned in the court. Are you gearing up for similar battles again?

BONTA: We're preparing for what will come. In that concurrence, Justice Thomas made his intent and his position very, very clear. And we should take note of that and be prepared just as we prepared for months for the likely decision that actually did come down in the Bruen case, addressing the Second Amendment and the concealed-carry weapon law in the state of New York. So we will prepare also for other attacks to establish rights that may come.

DAVIS: You mentioned the gun decision - the Supreme Court, of course, on Thursday issued another decision that struck down a New York law restricting some gun carrying rights. California has similar restrictions. What is the impact going to be on California's gun laws now?

BONTA: I think there's a limited impact right now. The most direct and immediate impact is that the good-cause or proper-cause component of California's existing concealed-carry weapon law is not constitutional under the Bruen case. Other aspects continue to be in full force and effect. There will also be a bill, SB 918, authored by Senator Anthony Portantino, which will add additional components and requirements in the interest of safety to our concealed-carry weapon regime that are constitutional and consistent with the Bruen decision. So we'll see what other lawsuits or attacks on California's commonsense gun laws will be - laws, by the way, that have led us to be the state with one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the nation, making us one of the safest states when it comes to gun violence. And, of course, we will defend those laws with the full authority and force of our office.

DAVIS: Does this mean that it's easier now for someone to open carry in California or harder?

BONTA: There is one requirement of the current concealed-carry weapon law that is no longer enforceable. So with that requirement gone, it does make it easier. But the other requirements remain in effect, and additional requirements will be added with SB 918. So you still will need a permit. You will still need to demonstrate safety. You will not be able to carry a concealed weapon in certain sensitive places. And we will do everything we can consistent with the law to keep the people of California safe.

DAVIS: That's California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

BONTA: Thanks for having me, Susan - honored to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.