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Proposition 1 abortion rights ballot measure passes

Voters approved Proposition 1, the statewide ballot measure that will add a right to abortion to the California Constitution.

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California will codify its progressive abortion protections in its state Constitution after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, a measure placed on the ballot in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

With its passage Tuesday, the state’s Constitution will expressly guarantee a person’s “fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.” California’s Democratic-controlled Legislature placed Proposition 1 before voters, saying it was needed to ensure that state courts or politicians could not undermine reproductive rights in the future without voter approval.

“Today we sent a loud clear message to those who think they can control our bodies,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who authored the bill that placed Proposition 1 on the ballot. “In California, we will not go backwards.”

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Polling leading up to the election showed support for Proposition 1 far ahead, with voters’ strong convictions on the issue of abortion access expected to mobilize reluctant voters, a benefit to Democrats who placed the measure on the ballot and their congressional colleagues.

Gov. Gavin Newsom contributed $3.4 million from his gubernatorial reelection campaign war chest in support of the proposition and was featured in ads promoting the amendment, an effort that benefited both the campaign and his own effort to win a second term. The threats to abortion rights have been one of the biggest themes of Democrats running for office nationwide.

On Tuesday evening, an opposition campaign spokesperson conceded defeat, but said the coalition will continue to fight against the measure’s overly broad language.

“To us, this was only the first battle in the fight to protect the people of California from extreme and costly policies that fail to reflect the values held by most Californians,” said Catherine Hadro, a spokesperson for a coalition opposing Proposition 1.

The meagerly funded opposition campaigns argued that the broad language in Proposition 1 would override California’s laws limiting late-term abortions and allow the procedure up until birth for any reason. Constitutional law experts dismissed those concerns, saying state laws regarding when abortions can be performed will remain in effect.

Campaigns for the two competing measures, Propositions 26 and 27, flooded the airways with a constant barrage of attack ads against each other.

Nov. 8, 2022

California law allows a person 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” or if the procedure is necessary in order to “protect the life or health of the woman.” In most cases, doctors have considered a fetus viable at 24 weeks, but that determination varies based on each pregnancy.

While other states restrict abortion and the Supreme Court weighs Roe vs. Wade, California is preparing to serve the country’s abortion patients.

Nov. 15, 2021

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Democratic leaders in the state first began mobilizing last year in response to perceived threats to Roe vs. Wade, with Newsom asking Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and others to develop a plan for the state to become a sanctuary to anyone denied abortion services in other parts of the country.

Newsom ultimately signed 15 abortion-related bills this year and included $200 million in the state budget for reproductive healthcare services and outreach.

“Here in California, voters used their voice to say loud and clear they support access to abortion and contraception — safeguarding peoples’ rights for generations to come,” said Jodi Hicks, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “This overwhelming victory once again shows California’s leadership in moments of national crisis and that our values will not be compromised by a handful of conservative extremists on the U.S. Supreme Court pushing a political agenda while ignoring facts, medicine, and science.”

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