The Assembly voted 58-16 on Monday to bring forth a new Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit California from denying or interfering with someone’s reproductive freedom, such as through abortions or contraceptives, to a statewide vote in November.
According to State Constitutional Amendment 10, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the “measure would amend the California Constitution to prohibit the state from denying or interfering with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.” This would expand on current state law, specifically the Reproductive Privacy Act, that states that “every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions and prohibits the state from denying or interfering with a person’s right to choose or obtain an abortion before viability of the fetus, or when the abortion is necessary to protect the life or health of the person.
Senator Atkins wrote the bill as a response to the leaked Supreme Court Draft ruling of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, which ultimately was officially ruled on last week, overturning Roe v. Wade and the abortion legal issue back to the state level. In SCA 10, she and supporters hope to fully solidify the right to an abortion and contraceptives in California constitutionally as part of the effort to make California an abortion sanctuary state.
As the Globe reported, Roe v. Wade was not a Constitutional right, and Congress never codified the decision in law.
“We are on the precipice of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could topple Roe v. Wade and erode the right to abortion that was secured nearly 50 years ago—altering reproductive freedom in America as we know it,” said Senator Atkins less than a week before the Dobbs ruling. “SCA 10 would make it undeniably clear that in California, abortion and contraception are health care and are a private matter between a patient and their medical provider. I have seen what is at stake when people don’t have access to abortion—the real lives and real families that are at risk. In California, we are resolute in our determination to protect women and families, no matter who happens to be wielding power at the federal level.”
Due to the pressing Supreme Court ruling, as well as the November election only being less than five months away, SCA 10 quickly moved forward in the legislature. Last week the Senate quickly voted 29-7 to pass it, followed up by the 58-16 Assembly vote on Monday.
Support for, opposition against SCA 10
“Abortion rights are on the ballot, literally,” tweeted Senator Atkins on Monday. “This November, California voters will have the opportunity to explicitly protect access to abortion and contraception in our state constitution!”
Abortion rights are on the ballot, literally. This November, California voters will have the opportunity to explicitly protect access to abortion and contraception in our state constitution! 🗳 #SCA10 #AbortionIsHealthcarehttps://t.co/p0Nu6oM8XJ
— Toni G. Atkins (@toniatkins) June 28, 2022
“We know from history that abortion bans don’t end abortion,” added Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood). “They only outlaw safe abortions. We must preserve the fundamental reproductive rights of women here in California, because they are under attack elsewhere.”
While the majority of legislators voted to bring the Amendment to the voters in November, many also had questions concerning the language of SCA 10. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) specifically asked if “post-viability” abortions would be removed, only to have no response from Speaker Rendon or others giving following remarks. Questions over how late an abortion could be and other matters also spread concern of how vague SCA 10 was as an amendment.
“SCA 10 is extreme, even for a state like California,” explained California Family Council President Jonathan Keller in a statement. “Many people who identify as pro-choice still reject the idea of abortions ending the lives of viable children late in pregnancy.”
Abortion rights researcher Sandra Rodriguez added in a Globe interview, “SCA 10 will need to have more specific language about what the parameters are on this. A lot more voters than people realize are on the fence on this, and the key is to where the limits are.”
Despite the opposition, an uphill battle against SCA 10 is likely for those who oppose it, as over 75% of likely California voters did not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned according to a recent poll.
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