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California Puts Constitutional Abortion Right on November Ballot

June 27, 2022, 10:59 PM

A ballot proposal approved Monday will ask voters to enshrine reproductive rights in the California Constitution, one of a flurry of abortion protection measures advancing in the state Legislature.

The ballot initiative (S.C.A 10) would provide that 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.” It follows the US Supreme Court decision last week invalidating Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion.

“You don’t have to look far to see the direction of our nation,” Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D) said during floor debate.

The proposed amendment lacks protections for high-risk pregnancies, said Assemblymember James Gallagher (R), whose twin sons were born 10 weeks early. The measure “says nothing about their rights,” he said.

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California joins Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont in abortion measures on statewide ballots. Of those, only Vermont’s referendum proposes a constitutional right to abortion. The California legislation, which the Assembly passed 58-16 and the Senate earlier, 29-8, builds upon the state’s constitutional right to privacy and equal protection.

The amendment will go on the Nov. 8 ballot and “voters in California will be able to explicitly secure both contraception and abortions rights in our Constitution. It will be no longer based on privacy because as we see from this decision [US Supreme Court Justice Samuel] Alito has stripped privacy as a right,” Sen. Nancy Skinner (D), co-chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, said last week after the court’s ruling.

About a dozen measures expanding abortion protections are pending in the Democratic-dominated California Legislature that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he’d sign if they reach his desk.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at jcutler@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com