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California Constitutional Amendment to Protect Abortion, Birth Control Heads to Nov. Ballot

PoliticsCalifornia Constitutional Amendment to Protect Abortion, Birth Control Heads to Nov. Ballot

Abortion rights rallyAn abortion rights rally in San Diego in May. Photo by Salvatore Giametta

Just days after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the California Legislature voted to place on the November ballot an amendment to the state constitution guaranteeing access to abortion and contraceptives.

If approved by voters in November, the first article of the state constitution would be amended to include this text:

“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.”

The amendment passed in the Assembly on Monday by a 58-16 vote, following a 29-8 vote in the Senate on June 20. A two-thirds majority was required in both houses, and the amendment passed along party lines with most Republicans voting against it.

Among the San Diego County delegation, Senators Patricia Bates and Brian Jones, and Assemblymembers Randy Voepel and Marie Waldorn, voted against putting the amendment on the ballot.

“Abortion is health care, and should be a private discussion between a patient and their health care provider,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego. “When politicians and judges force themselves into that room, safety goes out the window.”

“Friday was a dark day,” she said, referring to the Supreme Court’s decision. “Today, we provide a ray of hope by enabling voters to enshrine reproductive rights in our constitution, reflecting California’s values and protecting all who need abortion, contraceptives, and other reproductive care in our state.”

The SCA 10 amendment was introduced by Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon after the high court’s decision on abortion was leaked to the media in May.

Though the court’s decision only withdrew a federal right to abortion, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring option that the case legalizing access to contraceptives should also be reexamined.

“With the court punching holes in constitutional protections, our rights are in free fall,” said Rendon. “SCA 10 is our opportunity to turn to California voters — who have strongly supported abortion rights — and let them enshrine this crucial right in California’s Constitution.”

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