California to vote on adding abortion rights in state Constitution

California voters will decide in November whether the state constitution should specifically protect a person’s right to abortion and birth control.

On Monday, the Democrat-controlled Legislature finally approved a measure that would bring the issue before the state’s voters in the latest countermeasure aimed at the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Senate Amendment 10, if passed by voters, would further codify the state’s already advanced reproductive rights, granting everyone of reproductive age “the fundamental right to choose.” to give birth to a child or to choose and have an abortion.” Currently in California, these rights are upheld by case law and statutory statutes, but Atkins said hostile attacks on access to abortion convinced her it wasn’t enough .

“We know from history that abortion bans don’t end abortion,” said Speaker of Parliament Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), a co-author of SCA 10. “They only ban safe abortions. We must uphold the basic reproductive rights of women here in California because they are under attack elsewhere.”

With the measure now heading into November’s election, the abortion rights debate could increase turnout and force candidates in contested national and legislative races to reckon with an issue that has deeply divided the country.

According to a poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California earlier this year, 76% of the state’s likely voters said they didn’t want Roe vs. Wade tipped.

Democratic lawmakers in California introduced more than a dozen bills in anticipation of turning the landmark case on its head, including two already signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom this year. The governor on Friday signed legislation immediately protecting abortion providers in California from civil liability judgments based on claims in anti-abortion states. State-licensed health insurers must cover the full cost of an abortion with no co-payment, deductible or other cost-sharing, under a Newsom bill signed into law in March.

Newsom and lawmakers reached a budget agreement Sunday that earmarks millions of dollars for abortion services for the uninsured, work programs to increase the number of providers and financial assistance for patients traveling from out of state.

Newsom said California will be a “sanctuary” for abortion treatments regardless of where a person lives.

California officials have braced for an influx of patients from areas of the country where prohibitions will be reinstated for the first time since state abortion rights were introduced in 1973.

A study by UCLA’s Center on Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy estimates that 8,000 to 16,000 more people will travel to California for abortion each year after the conservative-majority Supreme Court ruled that states can ban the procedure again.

“We have to do whatever it takes in this state to tell the rest of the world that here in California, we really are a reproductive freedom state for everyone,” said Rep. Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), who said she had her own abortion when she was 25 years old old allowed her to pursue a career and start a family when she was ready.

“This decision was crucial for me and it was mine,” said Wicks.

California law permits a woman to have an abortion up to the point where a doctor determines that “there is a reasonable probability that the fetus will survive outside the womb without the use of extraordinary medical measures” or if the procedure is necessary to “protect” that Woman’s life or health.” These rights are granted to every woman who becomes pregnant, regardless of age. This includes minors who, under state law, can consent to an abortion without the knowledge of either parent.

State law does not determine the precise point in a pregnancy at which viability occurs, but allows a physician to make that determination based on “good faith medical judgment.” In most cases, doctors have considered a fetus viable at 24 weeks.

After the constitutional amendment passed on Monday, voters would decide whether to add additional protections directly to the state constitution. SCA 10 prohibits “the State from denying a person’s reproductive freedom or interfering with his most intimate choices, including his fundamental right to choose an abortion and his fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception.”

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley Law, said California already has strong protections against abortion, making SCA 10 “more symbolic than anything.”

The proposal had to pass the Senate and state assembly before the June 30 deadline with a two-thirds majority vote in each House to enter the statewide vote in November. While Democrats have enough seats in both houses to pass the constitutional amendment without Republican support, it received a GOP assembly vote Monday. Assembly member Suzette Martinez Valladares (R-Santa Clarita) voted for SCA 10 and said in a statement that she is pro-life with exceptions, but that she wants voters to make their own decision about whether it is included in the constitution of the State should be included.

Other Republicans have expressed concern that SCA 10 does not define abortion restrictions.

“If you believe in souls and that we are God’s creatures, when does the baby get the soul?” said Randy Voepel (R-Santee). “…Maybe you should think about it.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-27/california-voters-decide-abortion-rights-state-constitution California to vote on adding abortion rights in state Constitution

Alley Einstein

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