CA enshrines abortion right in constitution

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022
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State Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins was a leading voice in support of Proposition 1, which voters approved to enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution. Photo: Courtesy Twitter
State Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins was a leading voice in support of Proposition 1, which voters approved to enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution. Photo: Courtesy Twitter

California voters have enshrined the right to abortion in the state's constitution, according to preliminary returns November 8.

Proposition 1, the Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom, received 65.1% affirmative votes to 34.9% no votes, according to the secretary of state's website, which reported 94.8% of precincts counted as of Wednesday morning.

The impetus for Prop 1 was the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, which had established the legal right to abortion nationwide for nearly 50 years. Governor Gavin Newsom quickly got behind Prop 1, which was spearheaded by lesbian state Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

In a campaign letter to voters, Atkins wrote about why Prop 1 was important.

"As the author of Proposition 1, I have been reflecting in how personal this fight is to me," she wrote. "Before being elected to office, I worked as a director of clinical services at a women's health clinic and I saw firsthand what access — and lack thereof — meant for people."

Atkins stated that with the fall of Roe, "we are all now at risk of having our freedom taken away."

There is some question on if a federal ban on abortion is signed into law if that would render moot the new California state constitutional amendment. But legislative leaders pushed ahead with Prop 1 in earnest this summer after the high court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision. (There is also concern about whether other federal laws, like same-sex marriage, could also be overturned by the Supreme Court, but California LGBTQ advocates opted to work on a state constitutional amendment that would repeal the "zombie" Prop 8 same-sex marriage ban, likely in 2024.)

Prop 1 amends the state constitution to expressly include the right to privacy in personal reproductive decisions, including abortion. It furthers existing constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection and does not narrow or limit those rights, according to the official voter information guide.

Atkins was pleased with the election results.

"California sent a signal to the nation today, and the message is loud and clear: in our state, abortion is a right, and a conversation that will remain where it belongs — between a patient and their provider," Atkins stated Tuesday night after the polls had closed. "I am thrilled that this constitutional amendment has been affirmed by voters, and that it will protect generations of Californians, and allow us to maintain control over our own bodies. While this is a positive step forward on the path, it's certainly not the last, and my colleagues and I are committed to continuing our work on legislation and policy that will further protect reproductive rights and access in our state."

Other statewide initiatives

There were six other statewide initiatives decided by voters in the November 8 election.

The dueling Indian gaming initiatives both went down to defeat after millions of dollars were spent on advertising by proponents and opponents on each side.

Proposition 26, which would have allowed federally recognized Indian tribes to operate roulette, dice games, and sports wagering on-site on tribal lands, was defeated 70.1% to 29.9%. It was supported by most of the Indian tribes, including those that already operate casinos.

Proposition 27, which was bankrolled by out-of-state gambling corporations, lost 83.3% to 16.7%, early returns showed. That measure would have legalized online and mobile sports betting for people 21 and older. It would have allowed only federally recognized Indian tribes and eligible businesses that contract with them to operate the gaming sites.

A big winner Tuesday appeared to be Proposition 28, which provides additional funding for arts and music education in public schools. It was leading with 61.6% of the vote. It will establish minimum funding for such programs in all PK-12 public schools by annually allocating from the state general fund an amount equaling 1% of required state and local funding for public schools. There was no organized opposition to the measure.

For the third time in as many election cycles, a kidney dialysis measure went down to defeat, as Proposition 29 was losing 69.9% to 30.1%, unofficial returns showed. Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West has long sought the measure, which would have mandated a licensed medical professional be on-site at dialysis clinics. Opponents blanketed the airwaves with ads featuring dialysis patients opposed to Prop 29.

Proposition 30 was trailing in unofficial returns, 41% yes votes to 59% no votes. The initiative, a wealth tax to fund clean-air programs, would provide funding for wildfire prevention and zero-emission vehicle subsidies and infrastructure, such as charging stations. Prop 30 was strongly opposed by Newsom, who ran TV ads against it, even as the state said earlier this year that it would end the sale of gas cars within 12 years.

California voters support the state prohibiting the sale of most flavored tobacco products, as Proposition 31, a referendum on a 2020 law, passed 62.3% to 37.7% in early returns. The law signed by Newsom two years ago never went into effect because it was challenged by Big Tobacco. Supporters of the law said that tobacco companies try to entice young people to use their products by selling candy-flavored varieties in packaging designed to appeal to them. San Francisco voters in 2018 approved a similar local measure, upholding an ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors.

Updated: 11/9/22: This article has been updated with additional results.

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