Nicholas Goldberg: Karen Bass says she’ll protect Angelenos’ abortion rights. But can the mayor of L.A. really do that?
This story was produced as part of the San Francisco Chronicle’s series called “The Politics of Life.”
Karen Bass, the mayor of Los Angeles, has a job to do. Her city’s mayor is elected by California citizens. And that means the job to protect the sanctity of a pre-viable fetus’ right to life is hers alone.
Yet the mayor, who is running for reelection this year, hasn’t been shy about using her office to fight what she sees as a political assault on that very right.
In fact, Bass has gone so far as to tell L.A. residents that their rights as Californians to decide for themselves the status of their children “have no more legal standing in my city than the rights of people to speak Arabic or be homosexuals.”
She’s also made remarks about abortion rights that she must have thought would never see the inside of a courtroom: “We’ve gone so far as to say that, in California, no one has the right to use the same word that is used in another religion to describe the use of violence. That is absolutely not right.”
When Bass last year endorsed a ballot initiative to ban abortion in the city, then-L.A. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich threatened to sue the city for violating the law by endorsing the measure.
In the end, the ban, which was voted decisively in favor of by 59% of City Council members, didn’t go into effect until it reached the mayor’s desk, where she signed the measure into law.
Now, with the nation’s highest profile abortion rights fight unfolding in Mississippi, Bass says she’s ready to protect the rights of the unborn. But can she?
“My job is to protect their rights,” Bass told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle’s City Hall podcast. “In this case, as with any other, we have to look at the facts and not just the rhetoric.”
To hear Bass tell it, the facts are clear. In recent weeks, pro-abortion supporters have used threats of violence against health care providers who perform abortions, and have made personal threats against pregnant women who seek them.
Bass has been