One Small Step for California, One Giant Leap for Abortion
It’s no secret that California is one of the most pro-abortion states in the country. In 1967, Governor Ronald Reagan signed a bill that put California on the map as one of the first states to allow elective abortions. Then, in the lead up to Roe v. Wade in June, California legislatures convened a “Future of Abortion Council” to further cement the state as an abortion destination. Yet, despite all the recent laws passed protecting access to abortion, it may shock voters to learn that a November ballot measure would further enshrine abortion into California state law.
Proposition 1 is a state constitutional amendment that would expand the definition of “reproductive freedom” to guarantee a right to abortion at any point in pregnancy. The language specifically reads, “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.”
While Proposition 1 is being viewed as pro-woman, voters should know that this law is harmful and redundant. In September 2022, California passed Assembly Bill 2223 reaffirming that California law allows abortion past the 24-week mark if the life or health of the mother is at risk. While it might sound reasonable that late-term abortions are legal when the life of the mother is truly in jeopardy, the term health is interpreted so loosely that the pregnant woman, not her doctor, is the one to determine whether or not her health is at risk. That opens the door to all sorts of claims, like anxiety or a general feeling of being unprepared as an excuse to get a late-term abortion.
By leaving the term “reproductive freedom” undefined, Proposition 1 could also overturn existing laws that enforce age of consent or prohibit incest or polygamy. As it stands, the amendment doesn’t include age restrictions, implying that, regardless of age or maturity, every woman and girl can decide what she wants to do with her body. This leaves minors unprotected as, legally, they could consent to having sexual relations with anyone at any age. Furthermore, the state may not be able to enforce laws prohibiting incest or polygamy, as any state interference to prohibit these actions could be deemed a violation of a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.
California’s laws to promote abortion are already being replicated by states around the country. In 2019, California became the first state to mandate all state universities provide chemical abortion pills for students and staff on campus. Already, New York has considered similar legislation, and earlier this year, Massachusetts passed legislation that mandates all public colleges and universities provide chemical abortions for their students. Now, these states are putting their student population at risk as most universities are not equipped to help young women that may suffer complications from abortion pills. And it all started with a controversial bill being signed in California.
The day the Dobbs decision was announced, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) issued a joint statement with the governors of Oregon and Washington, announcing the formation of the Multi-State Commitment to Reproductive Freedom, which vows to protect abortion access within their states. This comes as a shock to no one, since a collection of laws dating back to 2017 all prove that abortion is priority for these governors. Oregon was the first to codify the “right to abortion” into their state law in 2017 and dedicated $15 million into expanding abortion access by targeting rural communities, communities of color, and low-income communities.
The year after, Washington State passed a bill that required all maternity care services to cover abortions, and in 2022, Democrats passed a law that ensures all abortion businesses can carry out abortions on women from out of state. California’s Proposition 1 is the most recent attempt to enshrine abortion into state law. Together, all three governors hope to create a West Coast where abortion is protected by law and cannot be affected by other state’s legislation.
Ultimately, Proposition 1 will add an additional layer of cover for both abortion businesses and women seeking abortions. Newsom has already been promoting the concept of abortion tourism and has allocated over $200 million of taxpayer money to fund both abortions and reproductive services. These services will be offered not only to California residents, but also to those who come from out of state seeking to abort their babies. With the influx of women from surrounding states, the California Family Council projects the number of abortions will go up by 3,000%.
As election day nears, it is important for voters to remember that Proposition 1 is dangerous for all women, not just Californians.
Glory Duran is an intern with Family Research Council’s Policy and Government Affairs Department.
Connor Semelsberger is Director of Federal Affairs - Life and Human Dignity at Family Research Council.