Santa Clara County will provide up to $3 million to a Planned Parenthood office in San Jose to help expand its medical and reproductive care services following a unanimous vote Tuesday by the county's Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Susan Ellenburg introduced the funding proposal in anticipation of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte seeing an uptick in women both in the county and from other states seeking abortion services.
Chavez and Ellenburg stressed the urgent need to approve the funding following reports Monday night of a leaked initial majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn 1973's landmark Roe v. Wade case, which protects the right to have an abortion.
The Supreme Court is not expected to formally issue a ruling on the fate of Roe v. Wade until this summer, but Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed Tuesday that the draft opinion, which was written by Justice Samuel Alito and which was first obtained by Politico, was legitimate.
Katherine Schott, a certified nurse midwife and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte's senior director of clinical services, said Tuesday that the health care office has cared for more than 80 out-of-state abortion patients since July 2021, including patients from Alabama, Arizona, Florida and Texas.
“We know that these numbers are only going to increase as we prepare for the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” Schott said.
Up to $2 million of the funding would support an expansion of Mar Monte's training facility and the purchase of lab equipment, according to Chavez. Up to $1 million would support virtual health services.
Chavez noted that many states have so-called 'trigger laws,' which will automatically ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is struck down, and that multiple states have recently approved sweeping bans on the procedure that do not include common exceptions for fetuses conceived via rape or incest.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that we as a board, the county as an entity, ensure access to health care for women, as this basic right will be taken away from women in at least 18 states when the decision becomes final,” she said.
Ellenburg called potential state-level abortion bans an "epic humanitarian crisis" that will force those seeking abortions to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to a state that would allow the procedure.
“We have an opportunity and, in my opinion, an obligation to stand with those who are most likely to be negatively impacted by this decision - poor women of color,” Ellenburg said. “We are the safety net and the refuge of justice for those whose rights have been stripped.”
Planned Parenthood officials speaking at the meeting noted that the nonprofit also provides general health care services, and is in some cases the primary care provider for people who may not have health insurance.
The nonprofit also overwhelmingly cares for low-income residents and people of color, according to Mar Monte Vice President of Public Affairs Lauren Babb, who told the board 62 percent of the facility's patients come from families with annual incomes below $26,000 and 70 percent identify as people of color.
The funding proposal is supported by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, state Sens. Josh Becker, D-San Mateo, and Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, and various members of the Mountain View, Gilroy and San Jose city councils.
With the board's vote, the one-time funding allocation will be included in the county's budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.