CA proposes protecting abortion in state constitution in reaction to potential Roe v. Wade decision

ByJessica De Nova KABC logo
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
California proposes protecting abortion in state constitution
News that the Supreme Court may be ready to overturn Roe v. Wade prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to vow to protect abortion rights in California.

News that the Supreme Court may be ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights ruling, prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom and other lawmakers to vow to protect women's rights in California.

On Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Aktins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Newsom announced a proposed amendment to place permanent abortion protection in California's constitution.

"California is proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state," their statement read. "We know we can't trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution."

The proposed constitutional amendment would be put before California voters in November. To get it on the ballot more than a super majority vote is required in both of the state's legislative houses.

An apparent draft Supreme Court opinion obtained by Politico shows the panel's conservative majority of justices is ready to overturn nearly 50 years of established abortion rights

As pro-life advocates celebrated the news, Newsom had a strong reaction.

"I'm furious that my own daughters and sons could grow up in an America that is less free than the one they were born into. We have to wake up. We have to fight like hell. We will not be silenced," the governor said.

There are also 13 bills now before the state legislature to bolster abortion rights in California - from protecting doctors legally, to expanding clinic locations and access. There is the expectation that women from other states where abortions are banned could come to California for an abortion.

"We expect a 3,000 percent increase in patients coming to California for care which will mean that Californians' access to care will be impacted by the fact that we'll have that surge," said President of Northern California Planned Parenthood Gilda Gonzales.

VIDEO: Rep. Speier on Roe v. Wade opinion: 'Abortion saved my life'

Rep. Jackie Speier talks about her personal experiences on abortion as the leaked Supreme Court documents show in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider supporting a pilot program that would make the county an abortion "safe haven." That means the county would provide services to patients regardless of where they live - and even if the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade.

The motion was already included in Tuesday's board meeting agenda before an apparent draft Supreme Court opinion obtained by Politico was circulated Monday night.

The draft opinion suggests the conservative majority of justices is ready to overturn nearly 50 years of established abortion rights precedent since Roe v. Wade.

The document, which Politico said it obtained from a "person familiar with the court's proceedings," is marked "first draft" and dated Feb. 10, 2022 -- two months after oral arguments were heard in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. ABC News has not independently confirmed the draft.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," writes Justice Samuel Alito, the opinion's apparent author, in a copy of the draft posted online.

The leak is an extraordinary breach of Supreme Court protocol and tradition. Never before has such a consequential draft opinion been leaked to the public before publication.

Reached by ABC News, a Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to comment.

If Alito's opinion were to hold, as written, it would dramatically upend abortion rights across America, effectively allowing each state to set its own policy.

"The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion," the draft concludes. "Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives."

ABC News contributed to this report.