Guarantee abortion rights in state constitution
What did voters decide?
Voters approved Proposition 1 overwhelmingly, with 67% saying “yes.”
What will it do?
This ballot measure amends the California Constitution to enshrine a fundamental right to reproductive freedom. That includes the right to choose to have an abortion and the right to choose or refuse contraceptives. Because these rights are already protected by state law, Prop. 1 is unlikely to have any financial impact on California, unless a court interpreted it as expanding the government’s obligation to pay for contraception and abortion procedures, which it already does for low-income residents.
Why was it on the ballot?
There is already a right to privacy guaranteed in the California Constitution, but it is not explicitly defined. Historically, the language has been understood to preserve reproductive rights, including through a decision by the California Supreme Court. Abortion and contraceptive access were later expressly protected in state law.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in June overturning Roe v. Wade, however, has raised fears that a change in legal interpretation or partisan control of the now-overwhelmingly Democratic state Legislature could undermine those protections for Californians in the future.
Backed by abortion rights advocates and Gov. Gavin Newsom, lawmakers rushed to place Proposition 1 on the ballot to ensure that reproductive health care remains a constitutional right in California.
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Supporters argue that Proposition 1 will prevent California from going backwards on reproductive rights. By putting the right to abortion and contraception directly into the California Constitution, they say that reproductive health care will always be a medical decision, not a political one, no matter what party controls state government.
- Yes on 1 committee
- Abortion rights groups, including Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and NARAL Pro-Choice California
- California Medical Association
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- League of Women Voters of California
- SEIU California
- California Democratic Party
- Equality California
- Gov. Gavin Newsom, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla and other Democratic statewide elected officials
- Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and dozens of other Democratic legislators
- Hillary Clinton
- Health Care for All-California
Opponents say that Prop. 1 is unnecessary to protect reproductive rights in California but is written so broadly that it could face years of protracted court battles to clear up the language, costing the state millions of dollars in legal fees. They raise particular concern that the measure would override state regulations that now limit abortions after the point when a fetus is viable on its own outside of the womb, at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. These late-term abortions are currently only legal if the health or life of the mother is threatened. Supporters say the measure does nothing to change that.
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