California Prop. 1 would protect women’s reproductive rights

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In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, it’s essential that California voters amend the state Constitution to ensure reproductive choice.

California’s existing laws protect an individual’s right to make decisions about abortion and contraceptives. And the state constitutional right to privacy has been interpreted by California’s Supreme Court to safeguard those choices.

But as we’ve seen with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent shocking decision and the rush by other states to ban abortion, reproductive rights that are not explicitly granted in a constitution are vulnerable to the whim of justices and lawmakers. And, as Justice Clarence Thomas foreshadowed in his concurring opinion, the federal right to contraception could be overturned next.

Thus, Californians can no longer count on federal protections. They need to explicitly embed rights to choose an abortion and to choose or refuse contraception in their state constitution. Proposition 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot would do just that. Vote yes.

The law would ensure that only future state voters, not politicians nor justices, could alter those rights. It is perhaps the most important measure on the upcoming ballot.

And it is certain to face an onslaught of campaign misinformation. Californians should expect to be bombarded this fall by political ads arguing that Prop. 1 would allow unrestricted late-term abortions that would cost taxpayers millions. Don’t believe them.

If voters approve Prop. 1, the Legislature would still be able to pass laws governing the parameters of when an abortion could be performed, just as legislators do for other established constitutional rights.

Current California law prohibits abortions after the fetus is viable, generally some point between week 24 and 26. But physicians and medical legal experts know that viability is not solely determined by gestational age. Every pregnancy is different. Genetic makeup, birth weight and the health condition of the mother and fetus are important factors. That’s why it is so critical that the final decision be left to a patient and doctor bound by medical ethics standards.

As for the false claims that the measure would be costly, the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office determined that Prop. 1 would have “no direct fiscal effect” for the simple reason that reproductive rights already are protected by state law.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll in July showed that 68% of Californians disapprove of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Prop. 1 is the strongest response state voters can take to protect reproductive freedom.

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