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People protest the overturn of Roe v. Wade in Los Angeles, California on June 27, 2022. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images.
People protest the overturn of Roe v. Wade in Los Angeles, California on June 27, 2022. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images.

California puts abortion protection amendment on the 2022 ballot

The state’s leaders have said they want it to be a safe haven for abortion, and are following through.

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After a weekend of anger and frustration felt nationwide because of the Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade. California has made one of the first tangible efforts from a state to protect abortion in the nation.

On Monday, June 27, the California legislature approved by two-thirds votes in both chambers to present a state constitutional amendment to voters in the November general election that would protect abortion rights. Back in February 2022, Vermont became the first state to try to guarantee abortion via a constitutional amendment, and it will also appear on its ballots in November.

“Time to fight back,” California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote in a post on Twitter that also included a video of him announcing the amendment bill and an executive order that protects women coming to California for an abortion from out-of-state prosecution.

In the immediate aftermath of the Roe v. Wade overturn, he and other California leaders also began branding the state as a safe haven of sorts for women seeking abortions from states where the procedure would be banned. A little more than half of U.S. states are expected to have bans of some sort over the next couple weeks.

The amendment bill easily achieved its two-thirds majority in the state legislature, where Democrats have a supermajority.

California’s path to it began a month ago, after POLITICO leaked a draft of the majority opinion in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito. In addition to upholding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, it also overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating federal abortion protections and sending the decision back to individual states.

As reported by the Washington Post, its state constitution enshrines a right to privacy that courts have interpreted in the past to cover abortion. However, state legislators want it spelled out clearly for reproductive rights.

“We must preserve the fundamental reproductive rights of women here in California because they are under attack,” Speaker of the California State Assembly Anthony Rendon said on the Assembly floor as the bill was passed.

Beyond the amendment, which Californians are expected to pass given their majority support for abortion rights and Newsom’s executive order, a bill has also passed and been signed that would legally protect women traveling from out of state for an abortion.

Those protections could also soon be extended up and down the West Coast, as Newsom has announced a partnership with Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee to turn it into a safe haven for women in need of an abortion and providers.

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