Senate Leader Atkins, Legislators Introduce Constitutional Amendment to Enshrine Right to Abortion, Contraception
SACRAMENTO – Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), along with Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Legislative colleagues, and in partnership with Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and NARAL Pro-Choice California announced today that SCA 10 – an explicit constitutional right to abortion and contraceptives – has been introduced in the California State Senate.
The legislation is intended to protect the right to abortion in the state constitution, given the pending U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the leaked draft majority opinion that highlights a federal erosion of the right to abortion as protected for nearly 50 years under Roe v. Wade.
“Too many times, history has shown us that human rights must be enshrined in the constitution so that no one can infringe upon them. This is one such historic moment, and it must be met with a historic response,” Pro Tem Atkins said. “It is our duty as legislators to fight for the people of California and their right to make decisions about their own bodies and access critical health care. This constitutional amendment is the additional armor we need for that battle.”
The constitutional amendment is jointly authored with Speaker Rendon, and co-authored by numerous legislators in both houses.
“To deny women the ability to make their own healthcare decisions is to deny that we are all equal,” Speaker Rendon said. “By ensuring that Californians have the right to choose enshrined in our constitution, we will make certain that everyone can determine their own future as they see fit, regardless of the political whims of a radicalized Supreme Court.”
SCA 10, which requires a two-thirds majority vote of both the Senate and Assembly, would place a constitutional amendment on the November 2022 ballot for California voters to explicitly provide for the fundamental constitutional right to abortion and right to choose or refuse contraceptives, which is consistent with, and bolsters, California’s existing rights to privacy and equal protection.
“Recent events have shown us that we must take every measure imaginable to ensure the right to abortion remains possible in California. No judge, or politician, should be able to rob people of their power to control their own bodies, their own lives, their own futures,” said Jodi Hicks, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President & CEO. “Planned Parenthood is grateful for the California leaders who repeatedly center patients and the care they need and want, including abortion care, and fight to ensure our state is a beacon of hope for what is possible.”
“In the face of countless attacks on reproductive freedom and abortion access, now is the time for bold action to ensure California can meet this moment and uphold our values as a Reproductive Freedom State,” said Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice California. “This legislation to enshrine access to contraception and abortion into our state constitution sends a clear message across the country that California will never stop protecting the freedom to decide if, when, and how to start or grow our families. NARAL Pro-Choice California is proud to sign on as a cosponsor of this constitutional amendment.”
California has a long history of leadership in protecting reproductive freedom and providing reproductive services to women, pregnant people, and families. In 1969, four years before Roe v. Wade, the California Supreme Court held that Californians have the fundamental constitutional right to procreative choice. Three years later, the state passed a constitutional amendment to explicitly provide for the right to privacy. Those rulings complemented the U.S Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which held that the constitutional right to choose is vested in the United States Constitution.
The SCA introduction follows a host of legislation introduced this year—the Legislative Women’s Caucus has a package of bills aimed at expanding and protecting reproductive rights for Californians and those who may need to come here to seek critical health care. The 2022-23 state budget proposals currently being negotiated by the Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom also prioritize more than $125 million for a range of reproductive health allocations.
“As Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus I'm proud to coauthor SCA 10 and proud that California is doing all it can to be a national beacon for reproductive justice and a sanctuary for anyone seeking an abortion. The reality is that overturning Roe will not stop abortions but rather lead to unsafe and deadly abortions for our most vulnerable communities, communities like mine – communities of color, low-income communities, trans, and other marginalized communities across the United States. If the fight to protect Roe the last 50 years has taught us anything, it's that this constitutional amendment is needed to protect future generations' right to decide when and if to start a family,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus.
“Now that each and every Californian who chooses an abortion, assists someone receiving an abortion, or provides abortion services can no longer rely on legal protection from the highest court in the land, it is time to explicitly enshrine abortion as a guaranteed right in our state constitution,” said Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Vice Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus.
SCA 10 will be heard in policy committees next week. Floor votes by both houses are needed by June 30 to qualify for the November ballot.
Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins