Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, California voters face a new proposition that would add an amendment to the California Constitution to solidify reproductive freedom in the state.
If passed, Proposition 1 would secure “the fundamental right to choose whether or not to have an abortion” and “whether or not to use contraceptives” for California residents, according to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office.
The proposition has already received an overwhelming amount of support. Data from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 69% of voters would support the proposition. 25% would vote “no,” and 6% were unable to decide, the Institute found.
“State law can change quite easily with the changing legislature, so, if the legislature swung to the right for whatever reason, then those laws could change,” according to Paula Tavrow, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and director of the Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health.
“Now, a constitutional amendment is much more difficult to change because it requires not only the legislation to pass, but then it would still have to go to the voters.”
The right to abortion was previously protected under the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. However, the decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization this past summer resulted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, giving states the power to decide their positions on abortion on their own.
The right to buy and use contraceptives, including condoms and birth control is already protected under federal law, according to the Right to Contraception Act.
According to Tavrow, there could be “looming battles about contraception that we wouldn’t have to engage in” if Prop. 1 is passed.
Currently, California’s Reproductive Privacy Act “provides that every individual possesses a fundamental right to privacy with respect to reproductive decisions,” according to the California Legislature.
“California is a leader in general when it comes to issues related to abortion and reproductive freedom and I think this is just another example of it,” Tavrow said. “It also communicates to other states, ‘Hey, we are taking this action, and we want it to be known that if you come here, you can get your reproductive needs met.’”
California law prohibits abortions when fetuses reach “viability,” or when the fetus is able to survive outside the uterus with medical care, with certain exceptions, as stated in California Health and Safety Code 123468.
There are currently 18 states that impose some degree of bans on abortions, according to the New York Times. This ranges from complete bans with no exceptions for rape or incest, to gestational limits banning abortion after a certain number of weeks during pregnancy. States with no exception on abortions include Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
Supporters of the proposition, such as Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and Gov. Gavin Newsom, want to ensure California residents have the right to abortion and contraceptives by placing it in the California Constitution. That would make it harder in the future to make any changes to the law.
“Access to affordable, comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion and access to contraceptives, allows people to plan their lives and achieve their dreams,” according to Yes on 1, the leading Prop. 1 supporting committee.
“No matter what the conservative United States Supreme Court has decided, we must continue to ensure that here in California, health care is a right. Prop. 1 would add that right into our state Constitution, and give the voters the chance to weigh in this November,” Yes on 1 said.
“I fully support it, 100%,” said Ariella Rabbani, the executive director of WYSE (Women and Youth Supporting Each Other) at USC.
WYSE provides members the opportunity to mentor middle school girls in the surrounding areas on topics including body positivity, healthy relationships and sex education.
“Especially through my involvement in WYSE, we’re just encouraging people to have the choice to make those decisions in their future,” the senior majoring in law, history and culture continued. “I think if it gets voted in, it would be reassurance for people in California to know that they feel safer and they feel some trust in the government that they’re here to protect us.”
The No on 1 campaign, which is backed by 13 organizations, including the California Republican Party and California Catholic Conference, states that Prop. 1 is “extreme, expensive and unnecessary.”
“Unlike current state law, Prop. 1 contains no limits on abortion, allowing taxpayer-funded, late-term abortions at any time, for any reason, up to the moment of birth — even if the baby is healthy and the life of the mother is not threatened,” No on 1 says.
Yes on 1 counters that Prop. 1 will not change the “existing state constitutional protections and law, which provide for the right to choose an abortion prior to viability or to protect the pregnant person’s life or health,” according to the committee’s website.
“I think that when we have this conflict between bodily autonomy and the right to life of the fetus, that we should be protecting the right to life of the fetus,” said Morgan Farrier, a junior majoring in Astronautical Engineering and the president of Trojans for Life, a pro-life USC club. “That’s why I will be voting no on Proposition 1.”
Supporters of Prop. 1 have contributed about $9.3 million, with top donors including the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Physicians’ Issues Committee of the California Medical Association, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County and the California Federation of Teachers COPE Prop/Ballot Committee.
Opponents contributed nearly $72,000, with the primary donors being the East Valley Republican Women and Patriot Store and Dehart Construction Services, according to Ballotpedia.