HomeCity Government NewsState Voters to Decide on Abortion Rights Amendment

State Voters to Decide on Abortion Rights Amendment

First published in the July 2 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

California voters in November will be asked to codify abortion protection within the state constitution, thanks to actions taken in Sacramento on the cusp of last week’s official strike-down of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
The state Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly approved adding the amendment to the constitution, following the state Senate’s approval of the measure, Senate Constitutional Amendment 10, the week prior.
With Gov. Gavin Newsom championing the amendment and signing additional protections into effect via executive order, voters now have the final say.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Democrat who represents Glendale, was a principal co-author of the measure, which also calls to enshrine a right to contraception in the California Constitution. Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins introduced the bill, which was also co-authored by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
“SCA 10 is about establishing explicitly in California’s Constitution what our State Supreme Court has held for more than five decades: the decision to have an abortion is between a patient and their medical provider,” Portantino said in a statement last week, before Roe v. Wade was overturned. “No judge, no politician should be in that room, or making that decision.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday formally ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion nation-wide, and reverted its legality to individual states — many of which had so-called “trigger law” abortion bans that have gone into effect since last week’s decision.
Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas — all Republican appointees — voted to overturn the ruling, delivering a political victory that the GOP had sought since the initial case.
A controversial leak of the draft opinion in May galvanized abortion rights supporters and prompted state-level Democrats to begin formally enshrining abortion rights while they had control of their governments. Friday’s ruling was largely anticipated as a result.
Newsom’s executive order on Monday prevents patient data and medical records from being provided to outside state agencies investigating an abortion here. He also signed a bill last week that protects the state’s abortion providers from civil liability judgments that come from claims filed in states barring abortion.
California’s amendment perhaps presciently includes protections for contraception. In his concurrence, Justice Thomas stated that other past rulings reached under the principle of substantive due process — including the rights to contraception — should be overturned on similar grounds.
“As the proud father of two daughters, a neighbor and compassionate policy maker, it saddens me to see the well-being of women and girls being misused in a misguided and mean-spirited political agenda,” Portantino stated.
“I am proud to serve with Pro Tem Atkins, who proposed this necessary constitutional amendment, and I stand as a supporter of this significant women’s health care and civil rights protection,” he added.
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, a Glendale Democrat, spoke on the Assembly floor ahead of Monday’s vote to highlight her stance of being an adoptive mother in full support of abortion rights. She said she and her husband spent “several years” in the process before finally adopting their daughter.
“It’s a very difficult process,” she said, “and even though, every day, I hoped to get a call from a woman who was pregnant and didn’t want to parent, I would never for one moment have dreamed of taking that choice away from any of those women.”
Going through the adoption system, Friedman added, also opened her up to the variety of experiences that women go through when they unexpectedly become pregnant.
“Sometimes there’s a narrative out there that we even heard repeated from a Supreme Court Justice, unfortunately, that this really isn’t such a big deal to carry a child for those nine months, bear that child and then place that child up for adoption,” she said.
“But I will tell you from the experience that I had with our own birth mother and from the many women that I know that have placed children up for adoption that there are many, many women who will go for the rest of their lives feeling the loss of that child that they are unable to raise themselves. That is a very difficult choice for many women and a really hard path to walk, and one that I think people take way too lightly.”
Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, a Los Angeles Democrat who is seeking reelection in a district that now includes south Glendale, also spoke on the floor Monday, recalling how her home nation of El Salvador jails women for having abortions and even, she said, for having miscarriages or stillbirths.
“When we talk about unaccompanied minors and women at our borders… many of those women are fleeing El Salvador and several other Central American nations because of the rights of women being completely banned and nonexistent,” she said.
“The rights for contraception, the right to family planning, it only exists if you are wealthy, because you can travel and go outside of the country … You don’t have to look far to see the direction of our nation,” Carrillo added. “Just look to my home country, who’s become incredibly conservative, who jails women for having a miscarriage, something we are starting to see in legislation across the nation.”
Friedman also highlighted the physical risk that pregnancy invites upon women, whether from medical complications or from abusive partners and family members. Teenagers who become pregnant, she added, often carry a stigma from their peers and family members.
Illicit abortions can also prove deadly, which activists frequently illustrate in their campaigns against criminalization. One such prominent case in Ireland spurred the nation to rescind its long-held ban on the procedure.
“I think the men who want to talk about this clearly have no idea of the desperation that an unwanted pregnancy can have on a woman and on a family,” Friedman said. “So, listen to the voices of those women. Think about those women who died, who were so desperate that they risked their lives and died to try to regain that control. The idea that we’re going back to that? Shame on us.”
Carrillo added, “Banning abortion and overturning Roe v. Wade won’t [end] abortion. It just makes it dangerous for women and individuals seeking that care.”

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