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Voter guide to Proposition 1, the right to abortion, on the 2022 California midterm ballot

illustration of several hands holding protest signs like "my body is not your choice"
(Molly Magnell / For The Times)
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California voters will decide the fate of seven statewide propositions on Nov. 8.

The propositions, like all state ballot measures, require approval by a simple majority of voters for passage. Unless otherwise specified, the approved propositions take effect once the election results are certified in December.

Here’s what you need to know about Proposition 1.

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Proposition 1: Abortion

This is a proposed amendment to the California Constitution that will explicitly protect a person’s right to an abortion in the state. The measure was placed on the November ballot by the Democrat-controlled state Legislature in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that protected abortion rights nationwide.

If approved by voters, the amendment would codify the state’s already robust reproductive rights, which grant anyone of reproductive age “the fundamental right to choose to bear a child or to choose and to obtain an abortion.” Currently, those rights in California were established by statutory law and by court ruling.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said she authored the constitutional amendment, which required a two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and Senate to be placed on the ballot, because of the sustained attacks on abortion rights nationwide.

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The meagerly funded opposition campaign argues that the measure is simply a ploy by Democratic lawmakers to latch onto a hot-button issue that will motivate liberal voters still reeling from the Supreme Court ruling to cast ballots in the November election.

A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released in August showed 7 in 10 California voters support the proposed constitutional amendment, and majorities back other policies aimed at protecting abortion rights.

Who is running for California governor? What are the propositions on the ballot? Here is your guide to the 2022 midterm election.

Nov. 8, 2022

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Abortion rights already are protected in California. Why is this necessary?

The state’s Constitution currently guarantees a person’s right to privacy, but does not define what that right includes. The California Supreme Court found the right to privacy included decisions related to reproductive choice, including whether to have an abortion or use birth control. Lawmakers have also added abortion rights into state law, but supporters of Proposition 1 said hostile attacks on abortion access have convinced them those aren’t enough. Laws and court rulings can be changed, supporters say.

Proposition 1 would ensure abortion protections couldn’t be changed without voters weighing in. However, opponents of the measure have argued that the language of Proposition 1 is overly broad and does not limit when abortions can be performed.

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California law allows a woman to have an abortion until the point that a physician determines “there is a reasonable likelihood of the fetus’ sustained survival outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures.” An abortion can be performed after viability if the procedure is necessary in order to “protect the life or health of the woman.” Those protections apply to anyone who becomes pregnant, including minors, who under state law can consent to an abortion without a parent’s knowledge.

The exact point of viability is not defined in state law. That decision is left for physicians to make based on “good faith medical judgment.” In most cases, doctors have considered a fetus viable at 24 weeks.

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Past coverage

Proposition 1 would amend the state Constitution to add protections for abortion rights.

Sept. 23, 2022

Eight in 10 California voters say abortion is an important issue when voting this year, while 71% say they plan to vote Yes on Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment to enshrine reproductive rights in the state Constitution.

Aug. 24, 2022

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Other propositions on the ballot

Learn more about all seven ballot propositions on the November ballot.

California’s November election will feature seven statewide ballot measures.

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L.A. Times Editorial Board Endorsements

The Times’ editorial page publishes endorsements based on candidate interviews and independent reporting. The editorial board operates independently of the newsroom — reporters covering these races have no say in the endorsements.

The L.A. Times’ editorial board endorsements for statewide ballot measures, elected offices in Los Angeles city and county, L.A. Unified School District board, L.A. county superior court, statewide offices, the state Legislature and U.S. House and Senate seats.

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How and where to vote

Ballots will be in the mail to all 22 million registered voters in the state no later than Oct. 10. Californians can return ballots by mail, drop them at collection boxes or turn them in at voting centers. They can also cast ballots early at voting centers or wait until Nov. 8 to vote at their neighborhood polling places.

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Californians can register to vote or check their status at https://registertovote.ca.gov/.

Here’s how to vote in the California midterm election, how to register, what to do if you didn’t get mail ballot or if you made a mistake on your ballot.

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Follow more election coverage

In the November midterm election, California is one of the battlefields as Democrats and Republicans fight over control of Congress.

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