By David M. Greenwald
Sacramento, CA – California figures to be one of the states that enshrines abortion rights into its constitution, as the state legislature made quick work of SCA 10, which heads to voters for the November ballot.
The vote in the Assembly, which makes explicit the fundamental right to abortion and contraceptives, was 58 to 16.
The bill, jointly authored by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and co-authored by a large coalition of Democratic Legislators, successfully passed its final legislative requirement just three days after the U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.
“Abortion is health care, and should be a private discussion between a patient and their health care provider,” said Pro Tem Atkins. “When politicians and judges force themselves into that room, safety goes out the window. Friday was a dark day. Today, we provide a ray of hope by enabling voters to enshrine reproductive rights in our constitution, reflecting California’s values and protecting all who need abortion, contraceptives, and other reproductive care in our state.”
Pro Tem Atkins and Speaker Rendon introduced SCA 10 shortly after the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson was leaked in May, indicating that the Court would likely issue a ruling that would reverse Roe v. Wade and undercut nearly five decades of precedence that protects access to abortion.
“With the court punching holes in constitutional protections, our rights are in free fall,” said Speaker Rendon. “SCA 10 is our opportunity to turn to California voters—who have strongly supported abortion rights—and let them enshrine this crucial right in California’s Constitution. I am proud to be its joint author.”
SCA 10 passed both houses with a two-thirds majority vote—the only requirement for it to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. It does not need to be signed by the governor.
The measure now goes to the voters, who overwhelmingly support abortion rights. This would be the first time that California voters have been given the opportunity to add the right to abortion and contraception to the state constitution.
Back in 1969, prior to Roe, the California Supreme Court held that Californians have the fundamental constitutional right to procreative choice. Three years later, the state passed a constitutional amendment to explicitly provide for the right to privacy. Those rulings complemented the U.S Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which held that the constitutional right to choose is vested in the United States Constitution.
Meanwhile, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order designed to protect women coming to California from other states.
“California will not back down from the fight to protect abortion rights as more than half the states in this country, enabled by the Supreme Court, ban or severely restrict access,” said Governor Newsom.
“We are ensuring Californians will have the opportunity this November to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution,” the Governor said. “And we’re not waiting until November to take action, today’s executive order ensures that the state will not hand over patients who come here to receive care and will not extradite doctors who provide care to out-of-state patients here. In California, women will remain protected.”
The order prevents any information, including medical records and patient data, from being shared by state agencies or departments in response to inquiries or investigations brought by other states or individuals within those states looking to restrict access.
A number of states, including Texas, are considering legislation that would make it a crime for residents to go out of state to receive an abortion. This order would make it much harder for those states to prosecute women under those statutes.
Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last Friday, Governor Newsom signed legislation to help protect patients and providers in California from civil liability for providing, aiding, or receiving abortion care in the state.
In addition, Governor Newsom and the governors of Oregon and Washington launched a new Multi-State Commitment to defend access to reproductive health care and protect patients and providers.
The budget agreement, announced Monday, also includes more than $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services. Governor Newsom recently signed legislation eliminating copays for abortion care services and has signed into law a legislative package to further strengthen access and protect patients and providers.