Senate President pro-Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and her colleagues introduced an explicit constitutional right to abortion and contraceptives in California.
The amendment, SCA 10, is intended to protect the right to abortion in California’s constitution pending the U.S. Supreme court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The action will be heard in policy committees next week.
This comes after a draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked in early May stating the court has voted to overturn voting rights.
“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.”
Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment 10 in partnership with Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and the National Abortion Rights Action League.
“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.”
According to a statement released by Atkin’s office, SCA 10 requires a two-thirds majority vote of the Senate and Assembly, to place a constitutional amendment on November 2022 ballot.
"[The legislation] explicitly provides 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," Atkins' office wrote in a press release.
Floor votes by both houses are needed by June 30 to qualify for the November ballot. The constitutional amendment is jointly authored with Speaker Rendon and co-authored by numerous legislators in both houses.
“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.
The announcement follows several legislative actions, including a package of bills prepared by the Legislative Women's Caucus aimed at expanding and protecting reproductive rights for Californians and those who may need to come here to seek critical health care. Gov. Gavin Newsom also prioritized more than $125 million for reproductive health allocations in the 2022-23 state budget. Newsom is currently under negotiations by the Legislature.
“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.