California Ballot Measure Would Codify ‘Right’ to Abortion on Demand in State Constitution

Maya Iribarren participates in an abortion-rights protest at City Hall in San Francisco following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)
AP Photo/Josie Lepe

In the wake of the United States Supreme Court upending Roe v. Wade’s federal abortion protection, California is moving to codify the life-ending procedure through a ballot measure amending the state’s Constitution.

The measure, approved by lawmakers on Monday, will be on the state ballot in November.

“In California, we get to be a beacon of hope,” Democrat Assembly Member Cristina Garcia said in a San Francisco Chronicle report.

The Chronicle reported:

During debate in the Assembly, which voted 58-16 to place the proposed amendment on the ballot Monday, many female lawmakers discussed their own experiences with having abortions, giving birth, adopting children and providing health care to women as a doctor.

During a press conference Friday, shortly after the Supreme Court decision was announced, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins fought to keep her voice from breaking as she talked about the proposed amendment and other efforts in California to safeguard abortion rights. Atkins, who authored the proposed amendment, pointed to polling that shows most Americans support abortion rights.

The Supreme Court’s action to overturn Roe allows individual states to decide whether to permit or restrict abortion within their borders. California law already allows people here to get abortions. Atkins said adding the right to an abortion into the state Constitution, however, will strengthen California’s legal ground to challenge attempts to ban abortion nationwide, as some Republicans have proposed.

“The Supreme Court has unleashed a seething fury felt by the majority of Americans,” Atkins, a Democrat, said. “Abortion, in my opinion and that of many, is health care, plain and simple.”

Despite Atkins’ claim that the majority of Americans are enraged by the recent Roe v. Wade decision, a recent Rasmussen poll shows that 50 percent of Americans support the recent ruling while only 45 percent oppose it.

“The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives,” the proposed amendment reads. “Nothing herein narrows or limits the right to privacy or equal protection.”

Critics say the amendment falls short because it does not include wording that the right to abortion should be tied to viability. This amendment leaves the door open for access to the procedure on demand up until birth.

Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom signed a separate measure on Friday as part of a legislative package to protect those who receive or perform abortion from civil charges.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Newsom doubled down on his support for abortion-on-demand:

Just hours later, Newsom issued an executive order that said California will not share medical records with antiabortion states or extradite doctors who provide care to patients seeking the procedure here.

“California will not back down from the fight to protect abortion rights as more than half the states in this country, enabled by the Supreme Court, ban or severely restrict access,” Newsom said on Monday. “We are ensuring Californians will have the opportunity this November to enshrine the right to choose in our state Constitution.”

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