Lieff Cabraser has joined the Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights, a group of over 20 law firms pledging to provide free legal representation to those negatively impacted by the denial of access to medical services if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Led by the Bar Association of San Francisco and the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, the Alliance recognizes the critical threat that anti-abortion extremism poses for women and their medical providers.
The Alliance will connect women and providers facing civil suits and criminal charges related to seeking or providing abortions in California with member law firms who will represent them on a pro bono basis. The member firms will also assist in pro bono civil and criminal defense in other states where the right to choose no longer exists. When at operational capacity, matters the Alliance could assist with may include:
- Defense in vigilante lawsuits against women, providers, and assisters who are seen to have aided a woman seeking abortion in California or in other states;
- Representation of providers and organizations who receive subpoenas seeking records;
- Advising hospitals, clinics, and medical professionals on policies relating to HIPAA and cooperation with private litigants or law enforcement;
- Affirmative litigation, including constitutional claims, to block harmful state laws (like travel bans) from taking effect; and
- In states where abortion may be criminalized, partnering with public defenders to assist in the criminal defense of women, providers or organizations.
In addition, the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office will be reviewing affirmative litigation opportunities to protect reproductive rights, advising policymakers on measures to protect abortion access in San Francisco and provide safe haven for women from other states, and partnering with other California public law offices on these matters.
The Alliance was founded in response to the recent publication by Politico of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would void abortion rights established in the 1973 Roe decision. That would open the door for several states to effectively ban abortions. Several states are already moving quickly to severely restrict or criminalize abortion altogether.
At a news conference, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said, “Pregnant persons and health providers could face civil suits and criminal charges for seeking or providing reproductive health care.” He noted that his office is “looking for affirmative opportunities to protect reproductive rights.”
“We’re not just talking about the arrests, the prosecutions, the criminal convictions of women seeking reproductive health care, or medical professionals providing that care. We know from history that women will die because of this decision.”
—San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu
The Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights includes Lieff Cabraser and the firms Altshuler Berzon; Arguedas Cassman Headley & Goldman; Arnold & Porter; Clarence Dyer & Cohen; Crowell & Moring; Durie Tangri; Farella Braun + Martel; Hanson Bridgett; Keker Van Nest & Peters; Morrison & Foerster; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Rogers Joseph O’Donnell; and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
Lieff Cabraser partner Kelly M. Dermody, managing partner of the firm’s San Francisco office and a civil rights activist for over 30 years, noted, “Our firm recognizes that women have fundamental rights to privacy and physical autonomy, to control their own health care and well-being in consultation with their medical providers. Protecting these rights is an existential necessity for gender and economic justice, and equality under the law. If women can be forced to be pregnant, no civil right is safe from religious extremism.”
The group expects to be operational and available to assist with cases later this year.