California Votes To Enshrine Abortion Protections In State Constitution

A California ballot measure enshrining the right to abortion and contraception in the state constitution is projected to pass, ensuring that the Golden State will remain an oasis for reproductive rights for years to come.

Proposition 1, introduced to voters by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) after passage in the state legislature earlier this year while the U.S. Supreme Court weighed an end to Roe v. Wade, cements that the state “shall not deny or interfere 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.”

Those rights are already covered by state law, but putting them in the state constitution prevents them from being easily retracted if decision-makers hostile to reproductive rights ever gain control in California. That’s been the reality in several other states where lawmakers seized on the fall of Roe to pass near-total abortion bans.

“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights; we’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women — not just those in California — know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights,” Newsom said in May.

Newsom also signed several new abortion protections into law in September to expand reproductive freedoms in California, including by introducing expanded training options for nurse practitioners and midwives to perform abortions, a ban on employers discriminating on the basis of reproductive health decisions and requirements that health insurance providers cover some contraceptives and vasectomies without cost-sharing.

He also signed several pieces of legislation aimed at making it safer for out-of-state patients to travel to California for abortion health care. Those efforts include two bans: one on health care providers releasing abortion-related patient records in response to out-of-state legal actions, and one on state law enforcement cooperating with out-of-state jurisdictions to punish anyone for coming to California for abortion care.

Constitutional amendments to protect abortion were also on the ballots in Michigan and Vermont this election. Kentucky, meanwhile, presented voters with the opportunity to enact a constitutional amendment declaring there is no right to an abortion in the state.