sacramento – Californians will decision in November Whether the right to abortion should be included in the constitution of the state or not.
if they vote “yes” Proposition 1They will also shut down a right that has received less attention: the right to birth control.
If the measure is successful, California would become one of the first states to have clear constitutional rights to both abortion and contraception – if not the first.
Lawmakers and activists behind the constitutional amendment say they hope to score a one-two punch: After California’s defense of abortion US Supreme Court abolishes federal constitutional right to abortion below Roe vs. WadeAnd go beyond what they see as the next frontier in birth control — the fight for reproductive rights.
“The United States Supreme Court held that the privacy and liberty protections in the United States Constitution do not extend to abortion,” said UCLA law professor Carrie Franklin, a constitutional law and reproductive rights expert who has testified in support of the California legislature amendment. . “If they said ‘no’ on abortion, they’re probably going to say ‘no’ on birth control because it has a similar history.”
In the decision of the US Supreme Court in June Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization abolished the federal right to abortion and to regulate the left states service. in that agreed opinionJustice Clarence Thomas said The court should reconsider other matters who have created protections for Americans based on the right to privacy enshrined in the US Constitution, such as 1965 case Griswold vs Connecticutwhich established a federal right of contraception for married people – which was later extended to unmarried people.
Some congressional Democrats are now trying to codify the right to contraception in federal law. In July, the US House of Representatives passed right to contraception act, which will give patients the right to access and use contraception and the right to provide it to providers. But the bill has little chance of succeeding in the US Senate, where Republicans have already blocked it once.
Protecting access to contraception is popular among voters. National Polls from Morning Consult and Politico A poll conducted in late July found that 75% of registered voters support a federal law that protects the right to birth control.
California isn’t the only state where voters will consider reproductive rights in their constitution.
On Tuesday, Kansas voters decisively rejected a constitutional amendment Which would have allowed state lawmakers to ban or dramatically ban abortion. It failed by about 18 percentage points.
Kentucky Voters will face a similar decision in November with a proposed constitutional amendment that would declare that abortion is not included in the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
Vermont going in the opposite direction. Voters there will measure a ballot in November that will add the right to “individual reproductive autonomy” to the state’s constitution, although it does not explicitly mention abortion or contraception. in Michigan, a proposed constitutional amendment Which would guarantee both abortion and the right to contraception, is expected to qualify for November’s vote.
In California, Proposition 1 prohibits the state from “denying or interfering in a person’s most intimate decisions about reproductive freedom, including their fundamental right to choose abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.” ”
The proposed constitutional amendment does not elaborate on what the right to contraception would mean in the state constitution.
California already has some of the strongest contraceptive-access 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 should be given emergency contraception Anyone with a prescription, regardless of age; and pharmacists can prescribe birth control Bullets on the spot. State courts have also interpreted the California Constitution to include the right to privacy that includes decisions regarding reproductive health.
The amendment, if adopted, could provide a new legal avenue for people to prosecute for being denied contraception, said Michelle Goodwin, professor of law at the University of California-Irvine.
If the pharmacist refused to fill a birth control prescription or the cashier refused to wear a condom, she said, customers could make the case that their rights were violated.
State Senate Leader Tony Atkins (D-San Diego) said that clarifying abortion and contraception rights in the state’s constitution—rather than relying on the right to privacy—would also protect against changing political winds, which would affect a woman’s rights. was the director. Health clinic in the 1980s. Although California lawmakers and executives are solid advocates of abortion rights, he said, the structure of the legislature and courts’ interpretation of the laws could change.
“I want to know for sure that this right is protected,” Atkins told a legislative hearing in June. “We are protecting ourselves from the courts of the future and the politicians of the future.”
Amendment Will strengthen California’s role In form of reproductive rights sanctuary Goodwin said that as much as the country is far from the availability of birth control.
Experts said the two forms of birth control that are vulnerable to restrictions in other states are intrauterine devices, or IUDs, and emergency contraception such as Plan B. These methods are often mistakenly combined with abortion pills, which terminate the pregnancy rather than prevent it.
nine states There are laws that prohibit emergency contraception — for example, by allowing pharmacies to refuse to offer it or exclude it from state family planning programs — according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. In alabama And louisiana This year, abortion opponents introduced legislation that would prohibit or prohibit abortion, and also apply to emergency contraception.
“We are seeing a decrease in abortion access in state homes across the country, which will and will continue to target contraceptive care,” said Audrey Sandusky, senior director of policy and communications. National Association for Family Planning and Reproductive Health,
Susan Arnal, vice president of California’s Right to Life League, said the proposed amendment is symbolic and only echoes existing laws. Arnall thinks the campaign is mostly about Democratic politicians trying to score political points.
“It just allows pro-abortion legislators to sound the trumpet and let them talk about how they are doing something about reversal Roe vs. Wade,” she said. “It is a sign of political virtue. I don’t think it does anything else.”
Goodwin argues that the symbolism of the measure is important and overdue. He pointed to the era of civil war, when enslaved people in southern states could look to free states for spiritual hope and material support. “Symbolically, it meant a kind of beacon of hope, that those places existed where one’s humanity could be perceived,” Goodwin said.
But California’s reputation as a haven for contraceptive availability may not be fully warranted, said Dima Kato, an associate professor at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. His 2020 study Of contraceptive access in Los Angeles County, which has the highest rates of teen and unintended pregnancy in the country, Kato found that only 10% of pharmacies surveyed offered pharmacist-prescribed birth control. Pharmacies in low-income and minority communities were least likely to offer the service, Kato said, worsening inequalities rather than solving them.
Cato supports the constitutional amendment, but said California should focus on improving and enforcing already existing laws.
“We don’t need more laws when we don’t address the root cause of the lack of effectiveness of these laws in these communities,” Kato said. “Lack of enforcement and accountability disproportionately disproportionately affect communities of color.”