California voters will decide whether or not to strengthen the state’s abortion law

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California voters will decide whether to strengthen the state’s abortion protections under Proposition 1, a move that is expected to drive voters to the polls in November. And that was the whole point, naysayers say.

The state’s Democratic-controlled legislature put Proposition 1 on the ballot in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, with lawmakers arguing that the decision made it clear that Californians needed a safety net for their own reproductive rights. The poorly funded opposition campaign argues the measure is just a ploy by Democratic lawmakers to tackle a burning issue that will motivate Liberal voters still reeling from the decision.

If passed, the state Constitution would explicitly state that California cannot deny or interfere with a person’s reproductive decisions, including “their basic right to choose to have an abortion and their basic right to choose or to refuse contraceptives”.

The measure, which has a significant lead in a recent opinion poll, follows a tidal wave of politically polarized backlash across the country, as conservative states instituted abortion bans and states Liberals lobbied for increased access. Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign more than a dozen abortion bills through the Legislature this year after including $200 million in the state budget to expand reproductive services, including for out-of-state residents who can no longer obtain reproductive care.

“California will not back down in the fight to protect abortion rights because more than half of the states in this country, empowered by the Supreme Court, prohibit or severely restrict access,” Newsom said after the listing. of proposal 1 on the ballot. “We are ensuring that Californians have the opportunity in November to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution.”

The state Constitution currently guarantees a person’s right to privacy, but does not define what that right includes. The California Supreme Court found that the right to privacy includes decisions related to reproductive choice, including whether to have an abortion or use a contraceptive. Lawmakers also added abortion rights into state law, but Proponents of Proposition 1 said hostile attacks on abortion access convinced them that was not enough. Laws and court decisions can be changed, supporters say.

Proposition 1 would ensure that abortion protections could not be changed without voters weighing in. However, opponents of the measure have argued that the language of Proposition 1 is too broad and does not limit when abortions can be performed.

Lawmakers put the measure on the ballot by approving Senate Constitutional Amendment 10, which was drafted by Senate Pro Tem Chairman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). It was passed by the Senate and the Assembly with the approval of two-thirds in each house. Most bills only require a simple majority.

Atkins said the measure would “undeniably indicate that in California, abortion and contraception are health care and are a private matter between a patient and their physician.”

“I’ve seen what’s at stake when people don’t have access to abortion — real lives and real families that are at risk,” Atkins said. “In California, we are resolute in our determination to protect women and families, no matter who holds power at the federal level.”

California law permits a woman to have an abortion until a physician determines “there is a reasonable probability of the fetus surviving enduring outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures.” An abortion can be performed after viability if the procedure is necessary to “protect the life or health of the woman”. These protections apply to anyone who becomes pregnant, including minors, who under state law can consent to an abortion without a parent’s knowledge.

The exact point of viability is not defined in state law. This decision is left to doctors based on “good faith medical judgment”. In most cases, doctors considered a fetus viable at 24 weeks.

Opponents of the measure say the overbroad language of Proposition 1, which does not mention viability restrictions, will override state law and allow abortions through the third trimester. Proponents and legal experts said that was not the case and the ballot measure would work in tandem with state laws.

“Even pro-choice voters oppose legalizing taxpayer-funded late-term abortion for any reason up to birth,” said Karen England, executive director of the conservative group Capitol Resource Institute. “Abortion on demand is not the answer voters are looking for.”

Other opponents point out that Proposition 1 will actually do nothing if passed because it codifies existing laws and precedents, making the measurement a costly waste of time that they argue only serves to score points. political points or driving Democratic voters to the polls and possibly influencing close races for Congress and the Legislature. Opponents argue the measure will likely be challenged in court, which could threaten abortion rights in the state.

Polls for Proposition 1 showed the measure is on track for victory this fall, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll last month. Seven out of 10 California voters supported the proposed constitutional amendment.

Fundraising has been even more unbalanced. Atkins’ ballot measurement committee has raised more than $7 million in the past two months alone, while opponents have raised $1,000.

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Los Angeles Times

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