Abortion could become a constitutional right in California. Birth control works too.


Sacramento – Californians Decided in November Whether to lock abortion rights in state constitutions.

if they voted “yes” Proposition 1they will also lock in a little-known right: the right to birth control.

If the measure succeeds, California would be one of the first — if not the first — states to provide explicit constitutional rights to abortion and contraception.

Lawmakers and activists behind constitutional amendment say they want to punch one and two: protect abortion in California U.S. Supreme Court ends federal constitutional right to abortion under Roe v Wadeand ahead of what they see as the next front in the fight for reproductive rights — birth control.

“The U.S. Supreme Court says the protections of privacy and liberty in the U.S. Constitution do not extend to abortion,” said UCLA law professor Cary Franklin, an expert on constitutional and reproductive rights who has testified before the California legislature in support of the amendment case. “If they say ‘no’ to abortion, they may say ‘no’ to birth control because it has a similar history.”

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health end of federal abortion rights and Let the states regulate Serve.in his agreed opinionsaid Justice Clarence Thomas Court should reopen other cases Creates protections for Americans under the right to privacy implicit in the U.S. Constitution, such as 1965 case Griswold v Connecticutwhich established the federal contraceptive rights for married people—later extended to unmarried people.

Some congressional Democrats are now trying to incorporate contraceptive rights into federal law. Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in July contraceptive rights law, which would empower patients to access and use contraceptives and empower providers to provide contraceptives. But the bill is unlikely to succeed in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans have blocked it once.

Protective contraception is popular with voters.of a country Polls from Morning Consult and Politico A survey conducted in late July found that 75 percent of registered voters supported a federal law protecting birth control rights.

California isn’t the only state where voters will consider reproductive rights in its constitution.

Kansas voters on Tuesday Decisive veto of constitutional amendment That would allow state lawmakers to ban or significantly restrict abortion. It failed by nearly 18 percentage points.

Kentucky Voters will face a similar decision in November, with a proposed constitutional amendment declaring that abortion is excluded from the state’s constitutional right to privacy.

Vermont is going in the opposite direction. Voters there will weigh a ballot measure in November that would add the right to “individual reproductive autonomy” in the state constitution, although it makes no explicit reference to abortion or contraception.In Michigan, a Proposed Constitutional Amendment This will guarantee abortion and contraception rights and is expected to be eligible for the November ballot.

In California, Proposition 1 would prevent the state from denying or interfering with “the reproductive freedom of individuals in the most intimate decisions, including their fundamental right to choose an abortion and to choose or refuse contraceptives.”

Billboards in California promote legal abortion access in state
“Welcome to California, where abortion is safe and legal” reads a billboard in Rancho Mirage, California, on July 12, 2022. The billboard was paid for by Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision.

Getty Images


The proposed constitutional amendment does not elaborate on what it means to enshrine the right to contraception in the state constitution.

California already has some of the strictest birth control laws in the country — and lawmakers are considering more proposals this year.For example, state-regulated health plans must cover all FDA-approved contraceptives; pharmacists Emergency contraceptives must be distributed to anyone with a prescription, regardless of age; pharmacists can Prescribe contraception Take medicine on the spot. The state court also interpreted California’s constitution to include the right to privacy covering reproductive health decisions.

Michelle Goodwin, a professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, said the amendment, if passed, could provide new legal avenues for people to sue when contraception is denied.

If a pharmacist refuses to fill a contraceptive prescription or a cashier refuses to provide a condom, customers can bring up situations where their rights have been violated, she said.

State Senate leader Toni Atkins, who has served as director of the Women’s Affairs Committee, said clarifying the rights to abortion and contraception in the state constitution — rather than relying on the right to privacy — would also prevent a change in political winds. A health clinic in the 1980s. While California lawmakers and administrators are staunch supporters of abortion rights, the makeup of the legislature and the courts’ interpretation of the law could change, she said.

“I want to make sure that this right is protected,” Atkins said at a legislative hearing in June. “We are protecting ourselves from future courts and future politicians.”

Amendment will consolidate California’s role as a reproductive rights reserve Goodwin added that much of the country is seeing reduced availability of birth control.

Two forms of birth control that are susceptible to restrictions in other states are the intrauterine device, or IUD, and emergency contraception like Plan B, experts say. These methods are often mistakenly confused with the abortion pill, which terminates a pregnancy rather than prevents it.

nine states The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, said there are laws limiting emergency contraception — for example, allowing pharmacies to refuse to dispense birth control pills or exclude them from state family planning programs.exist Alabama and Louisiana This year, anti-abortion opponents have proposed legislation to limit or ban abortion, which also applies to emergency contraception.

“We’re seeing an erosion of abortion access in state capitols across the country that have and will continue to target contraceptive care,” said Audrey Sandusky, senior director of policy and communications at the organization . National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.

Susan Arnall, vice president of the California Right to Life Coalition, said the proposed amendments are symbolic and echo only existing law. Arnal believes the campaign is mostly about Democratic politicians trying to score political points.

“It’s just giving pro-abortion lawmakers a hype and giving them talk about how they’re trying to overthrow Law and Wade“It’s a signal of political virtue.” I don’t think it does anything else. “

Goodwin believes the measure is symbolic and long overdue. She noted that during the Civil War, slaves in the southern states could turn to the free states for spiritual hope and material help. “Symbolically, it means a beacon of hope that those places do exist and one’s humanity can be seen as such,” Goodwin said.

But Dima Qato, an associate professor at the USC School of Pharmacy, said California’s reputation as a safe haven for contraceptives may not be enough.in her Study in 2020 In Los Angeles County, which has the nation’s highest rates of teens and unintended pregnancies, when it comes to access to contraceptives, Qato found that only 10 percent of pharmacies surveyed offered pharmacist-prescribed birth control. Pharmacies in low-income and minority communities are least likely to offer the service, Qato said, exacerbating disparities rather than solving them.

Gato supported the constitutional amendment but said California should focus on improving and enforcing the laws it already has.

“We don’t need more laws when we don’t address the root causes of the lack of effectiveness of these laws in these communities,” Cato said. “The lack of enforcement and accountability disproportionately affects communities of color.”


This story is made by KHN (Kaiser Health News), a national newsroom providing in-depth coverage of health issues, one of three operating programs in the United States KFC (Kaiser Family Foundation). KHN is the publisher California Healthline, editorial independent service California Healthcare Foundation.



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