Reproductive Rights to Cement in California Constitution


Proposal 1 is in the November vote to strengthen the rights we are losing at the federal level and to reaffirm the idea that fundamental decisions about reproductive health care should rest with individuals, not government officials.

By Cary Franklin, especially for CalMatters

A constitutional attorney, Cary Franklin is the McDonald/Wright Chair of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the faculty director of the Center on Reproductive Health, Law and Policy.

The push by anti-abortion lawmakers to strip pregnant people and their families of the power to make reproductive decisions and give that power to the government leaves us all vulnerable — especially since the June ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court not only threatens abortion rights , but all rights protected under the right to privacy.

It is important for California to support the rights we are losing at the federal level and to affirm the idea that fundamental decisions about reproductive health care should rest with individuals, not government officials.

That is why Proposition 1 is on the November ballot.

Prop. 1 will explicitly include the protection of abortion and contraception in the California Constitution. Protecting these rights by name will ensure that, even in light of future political shifts in the state legislature or state courts, a person’s fundamental right to abortion and the use or refusal of birth control in California will be protected.

Let’s clarify what the proposition does or doesn’t do. support 1:

  • Secures Californians’ right to decide if and when to grow their families, and keeps personal medical decisions where they belong: between patients and their healthcare providers. Enshrining these freedoms explicitly in the state constitution prevents activist judges from ruling that the California constitution’s privacy protections do not extend to abortion in the future.
  • Amends California’s Constitution to “explicitly include an individual’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including the fundamental right to choose an abortion and the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.” This provision is worded in broad terms, because that is the nature of constitutional provisions: their purpose is to formulate general principles and identify basic rights so that legislators can fill in the details. That is why criticism from anti-abortion forces that Prop. 1 does not refer to the term ‘viability’ so misplaced. “Viability” is not a term that belongs in the California Constitution. It’s not a legal term. It’s a medical term – and a complicated and difficult one to define. This is one of the few issues on which the conservative judges who ruled in the abortion rights case agree with the major medical associations: The court dedicates pages in its ruling to challenge the idea that viability is a legally meaningful line .
  • Retains the legal protections Californians enjoy and strongly support. They are the opponents of Prop. 1 seeking radical change. Their ultimate agenda is to take personal medical decisions out of the hands of individuals — and out of health care, where they belong — and hand them over to politicians and law enforcement. That’s not what Californians want.

After Prop. 1, physicians are still subject to the same medical license and professional ethical standards. The state legislature will still be able to legislate on abortion and birth control.

We want to live in a state where pregnant people have safe access to the health care they need, where doctors can practice medicine and help their patients without fear, and where individuals and not the government have the right to make the most basic and fundamental decisions. to take over our reproductive lives. That’s what Prop. 1 insures for future generations.

Reproductive Rights to Cement in California Constitution

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