California is working to add abortion access to its constitution

“Women will remain protected here.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers his annual State of the State address in Sacramento, Calif
Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Shutterstock
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Federal abortion protections are hanging on by a thinner thread than ever before. Last night, a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion showed that Roe v. Wade is set to be overturned. As the nation reels, California is taking action to protect abortion access with its own amendment.

On Monday, Politico published an initial draft majority opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. In it, Alito writes that Roe was “egregiously wrong” from the start and an “abuse of judicial authority.” He goes on to state that both Roe and a subsequent 1992 decision — Planned Parenthood v. Casey — must be overturned.

The draft cemented what many already knew: With an overwhelmingly conservative Supreme Court, Roe’s days are numbered. But Roe is about abortion access at a federal level. While it’s still vital to fight for its preservation, individual states can still take action to protect their constituents — and that’s exactly what California is doing.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and two top California lawmakers stated they are preparing an amendment for the California constitution to protect abortion access in the state. While no language has been revealed just yet, Newsom’s office tweeted that they are working to ensure there’s “no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state.”

“We can’t trust SCOTUS to protect the right to abortion, so we’ll do it ourselves,” Newsom tweeted on his own account. “Women will remain protected here.”

In the past few years, Republicans have ramped up their attacks on Roe and abortion access. Throughout it all, California has maintained itself as the closest thing the United States has to an abortion sanctuary. In May 2019, Newsom signed a proclamation on reproductive freedom which noted that “California has worked to make reproductive freedom a fundamental right for all Californians.”

“We’ll be a sanctuary,” the governor told the Associated Press in Dec. 2021. “We are looking at ways to support that inevitability [of patients traveling to California from out of state] and looking at ways to expand our protections.”

Of course, women aren’t the only people who get abortions. Hopefully any amendment that comes out of California will make sure to reflect that. But overall, this type of protection at a state level is exactly what’s needed, given that federal legislators have dropped the ball.