CA lawmakers, Newsom want to add abortion rights to state Constitution

Governor Gavin Newsom and state Democrats in the legislature responded quickly to reports the Supreme Court is poised to overturn abortion rights. Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins joined members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and Planned Parenthood to announce next steps to make the state an abortion "sanctuary." 

"We will not back down, we will double down," said Atkins at the capitol.  She went on to say, "California has long recognized the fundamental right to privacy and control over one’s body. Now we’re going to make sure that right is enshrined in our Constitution."

After the draft opinion was leaked Monday night, Newsom and legislative leaders announced they would move to make abortion protections permanent in the state. The constitutional amendment would require two-thirds approval in both chambers and voter approval in November. 

"California has been and will continue to be a beacon of hope and a refuge for reproductive justice for anyone and everyone," said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), chair of the Women’s Caucus. 

In a statement, the governor wrote: "I’m furious that my own daughters and sons could grow up in an America that is less free than the one they were born into. We have to wake up. We have to fight like hell. We will not be silenced."

In March, Newsom signed a bill eliminating out-of-pocket costs for abortions. It’s part of a package of 13 total bills focused on making abortion more accessible, protecting providers and patients and creating a fund to remove financial barriers. "Prepared not to just double down but put the full weight of our caucus behind this fight for all people across the United States, not just California," said Assem. Garcia. 

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California abortion clinics are bracing for an increase in patients if the draft opinion becomes the final ruling—in which case, abortion laws would be left to states. "We are going to have huge fault lines in this country as a result of this decision, and women’s daily experiences will be very different based on the type of state they live," said Jessica Levinson, Loyola law professor and Supreme Court expert.