In summary

As California voters consider whether to enshrine reproductive freedoms in the state constitution, Proposition 1 opponents argue that the amendment could enable late-term abortions.

Guest Commentary written by

Elizabeth Kirk

Elizabeth Kirk is the director of the Center for Law & the Human Person at the Columbus School of Law. She is also an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which specializes in scientific, legal and scholarly research and education on various pro-life issues.

Re: “Would Prop. 1 allow abortions after fetal viability? Legal experts say no

The full legal story needs to be told. Proposition 1 could allow for late-term abortions.

When you read Prop. 1, there’s nothing in the text about current abortion state law.
Instead, the language of the proposed state constitutional amendment says it’s intended to “further” the constitutional right to privacy. A word like “further” – rather than “preserve” – suggests the goal of Prop. 1 is to expand current law, not to maintain the status quo. To drive the point home, the last sentence says “nothing herein narrows or limits the right to privacy.”

The Roe and Casey U.S. Supreme Court decisions permitted states to limit abortion, but the language of this proposition does not. It’s a simple, absolute prohibition: the state shall not deny or interfere with reproductive freedom.

This suggests that even existing restrictions on abortion will likely be struck down by courts under this constitutional amendment. After all, a constitutional amendment trumps all existing state laws to the contrary and governs the interpretation of state law.

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