Lawmakers Press for CA Constitutional Amendment to Protect Abortion Rights

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Abortion-rights groups want Congress to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which would supersede state-based restrictions and legalize the procedure nationwide. Photo Credit: Gayatri Malhotra / Unsplash

Leaders from the California Legislative Women’s Caucus vowed to protect a person’s right to have an abortion in the Golden State after a leaked draft opinion appears to show the U.S. Supreme Court is ready to overturn the decision known as Roe v. Wade this summer. That would turn the matter over to the states.

Abortion is and will remain legal in California, but now some lawmakers want to cement that right by putting it into the state Constitution. Caucus Chair Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, said she feels if the Supreme Court issues this ruling, it would be an unprecedented rollback of people’s rights.

“Overturning Roe v. Wade is not going to stop abortions,” she said, “but rather it’s going to lead to unsafe and deadly abortions, especially for our most marginalized and vulnerable communities.”

If the constitutional amendment passes both houses of the state Legislature by a two-thirds margin, it would be placed onto the November ballot.

The author of the draft opinion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, argued that the privacy rights and the due-process clause don’t apply to the termination of a pregnancy. Other opponents cite religious objections.

Jodi Hicks, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said low-income women of color from conservative states would be disproportionately affected.

“People that are denied access to abortions are four times more likely to end up in poverty,” she said.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said she wants the state to establish a fund that would accept private donations to help people from other states travel to California for abortion care.

“California will continue to be a beacon of hope for women and families who need access for reproductive care and abortion, here in our own state and across the country,” she said. “We will not leave the women and families impacted by the backwards, reckless policies of other states without options.”