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Abortion Seekers, Providers to Get Free Legal Defense by Firms

June 1, 2022, 6:37 PM

More than 20 law firms and the San Francisco City Attorney’s office have pledged to provide free legal representation to people seeking abortions and those providing the services if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

“Our mission is simple: to protect people exercising their reproductive rights and the medical providers who give them care and support,” Teresa Johnson, partner at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, told reporters Wednesday. “No one should have to put their personal freedom on the line to exercise a constitutional right.”

A draft Supreme Court opinion, published by Politico May 2, would void abortion rights established in the 1973 Roe decision. That would open the door for several states to effectively ban abortions.

Pregnant persons and health providers could face civil suits and criminal charges for seeking or providing reproductive health care, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said at a news conference. His office is “looking for affirmative opportunities to protect reproductive rights,” Chiu said.

“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,” Chiu said. “We know from history that women will die because of this decision.”

National law firms participating in the initiative include Arnold & Porter; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Crowell & Moring; and Morrison & Foerster.

The Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights also includes firms Altshuler Berzon; Arguedas Cassman Headley & Goldman; Clarence Dyer & Cohen; Durie Tangri; Farella Braun + Martel; Hanson Bridgett; Keker Van Nest & Peters; Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein; and Rogers Joseph O’Donnell.

“All of these firms recognize that a woman has a basic right to control her own health care,” said Mary McNamara, Swanson & McNamara partner and Bar Association of San Francisco president.

The group expects to be operational and available to assist with cases later this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at jcutler@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com