Oakland City Council member pushes to become abortion access sanctuary

An Oakland City Council member is calling for the city to declare itself a sanctuary for women seeking abortion access.

"We are signaling to the rest of the women – to all of the women out there – that we are a sanctuary city for you and if you come out here we will protect you. You can have the services, health care services that you need," said Oakland City Council President Pro-Tem Sheng Thao, who is also running for mayor. 

Oakland and other cities and states are moving quickly at a local level to try and protect abortion access, as the nation waits for the U.S. Supreme Court's official ruling on the Mississippi abortion ban and whether to overturn Roe v. Wade.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and top Democratic lawmakers have stated they are seeking to make the state a sanctuary for women by protecting abortion access under the state's constitution, authorizing more medical providers to perform abortions, and preventing other states from accessing some California medical records.

"I think this is a backwards motion for the state of California and individual cities," said Jonathan Keller, President of the California Family Council, which opposes abortion.

Keller says if Roe v. Wade is overturned, then California should provide more resources to support pregnant women and ban abortion in all cases except when a mother's life is in jeopardy.

"Continuing to enshrine and promote abortion across the country is really unfortunate given all the tools at our disposal today," said Keller.

Legal experts say sanctuary city resolutions have little legal weight.

"Totally symbolic, it just doesn't mean anything legally," said U.C. Hastings Law professor David Levine. He says cities and states do have the ability, though, to pass public safety laws protecting abortion providers.

"You can't trespass on someone's private property, you can't block someone from going about their business lawfully," said Levine.

Levine also says while Congress could pass a nationwide ban on abortion, the federal government would have limited legal authority to enforce such a ban in states that decide not to comply.

"The federal government could not force the state of California to enforce a ban on abortion clinics," said Levine, "It would be something that federal law enforcement agencies would have to enforce, and they could not make state and local agencies go along with that. They could ask them, they could give them incentives, but they can't make them under the Tenth Amendment."

Thao says she hopes the Oakland City Council will send the nation a message and pass her abortion sanctuary resolution when it comes before the council on May 17. 

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at jana.katsuyama@fox.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.