Within an hour of a leaked draft opinion revealing a Supreme Court prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, California’s left-wing governor pledged to “fight like hell” to save abortion access with the same three words that provoked a snap impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
“Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will not be silenced,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “This world is about to hear their fury. California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell.”
Newsom pledged California would become a sanctuary for out-of-state abortion, surrounded by states with trigger laws restricting access to the deadly procedure upon the repeal of Roe v. Wade. The state had already been gearing up for Roe’s reversal after the 6-3 conservative Supreme Court heard arguments in a case to contest a Mississippi abortion ban beyond 15 weeks last December, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research non-profit, estimates out-of-state abortions in California could swell from 46,000 annually to more than 1.4 million, primarily from Arizona.
Here are four bills California lawmakers are determined to pass to make Newsom’s vision of the Golden state as the abortion capital of the country a reality:
The left-ward lurch provoked by the elimination of Roe v. Wade as standing precedent has led California lawmakers to propose legislation that not just expands abortion access but decriminalizes infanticide.
Assembly bill 2223, proposed by Oakland-area Rep. Buffy Wicks in February, removes safeguards for unsupervised abortions and bars the criminal investigation of fetal deaths even after birth. The bill, now on its way to the Committee on Appropriations, already passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Assembly Health Committee.
Rep. Wicks and her allies in the left-wing press have sought to dispel claims her legislation opens the door to legal infanticide, arguing instead the bill “protects reproductive freedom by clarifying that the Reproductive Privacy Act prohibits pregnancy criminalization.”
The bill’s text, however, is explicit with a prohibition on “using the coroner’s statements on the certificate of fetal death to establish, bring, or support a criminal prosecution or civil cause of damages against any person,” related to deaths from a “known or suspected self-induced or criminal abortion.” Criminal liabilities are also eliminated for “actions or omissions” associated with pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes.
Section 7 of the bill outlines the extent of protections for individuals who terminate their own pregnancies stretching to after-birth.
The Legislature finds and declares that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions, which entails the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care. …
Notwithstanding any other law, a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise deprived of their rights under this article, based on their actions or omissions with respect to their pregnancy or actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcome, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.
Legal experts hold varying definitions of “perinatal period” but all include some time after birth. The California Welfare & Institutions Code defines the term as “the period of the establishment of pregnancy to one month following delivery.” The California Department of Public Health regulates “perinatal services” up to 60 days after birth.
The Sacramento Bee rated claims that Wick’s legislation would legalize infanticide as “false” while conceding in its own description of the ruling the “perinatal period” extends beyond birth by the California Welfare & Institutions Code.
Abortion as a Californian Constitutional Right
On Wednesday, Newsom announced with assembly leadership that state lawmakers would pursue an amendment to the California Constitution protecting access to abortion.
“We can’t trust SCOTUS to protect the right to abortion, so we’ll do it ourselves,” Newsom wrote on Twitter.
Passage will require supermajorities in both houses of the Democrat-dominated legislature by June 30 to make it in front of voters by November as a statewide ballot measure.
Adoption would mostly be symbolic, given abortion is unlikely to ever become illegal in the state unless Congress were to pass a federal ban in the absence of Roe as standing precedent. Republicans, however, have largely expressed the issue as one that belongs to the states to regulate, a position reiterated in the draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito.
Taxpayer-Funded Cross-Country Abortion Holidays
Democrat State Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley introduced legislation in March to empower out-of-state residents to travel to California for abortions funded by state tax dollars.
The proposed law, Senate Bill 1142, establishes a government website to navigate access to abortions in California while offering taxpayer dollars to out-of-state residents who seek the procedure. The state travel fund offered to both in- and out-of-state residents covers “airfare, lodging, ground transportation, gas money, meals, dependent childcare, doula support, and translation services, to help a person access and obtain an abortion.”
Skinner’s bill passed both the state Senate Health and Judiciary Committees in April.
From ‘Safe, Legal, And Rare,’ to Common and Unregulated
In March, California State Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, proposed a law to lower supervision requirements for abortions in the first trimester.
Senate bill 1375 allows certified nurse practitioners to execute abortions within the first trimester of pregnancy without a supervising physician. To qualify for carrying out the procedure, nurse practitioners must have practiced medicine for at least three years or 4,600 hours.
Civil Protections for Abortion
After Texas passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country last fall without interference from the Supreme Court, California lawmakers proposed legislation to counter the rival state’s policy that empowers residents to enforce the measure on behalf of the unborn.
In Texas, citizens may sue abortion clinics for violating the state’s ban on the fatal procedure after six weeks of pregnancy. Citizens who press charges may earn $10,000 per violation from the culprit clinics or providers if successful.
One month after the Supreme Court refused to strike down the law, California Democrat Rep. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan proposed a bill to offer civil protections for patients and providers, shielding them from out-of-state retaliation in California.