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California Governor, lawmakers vow to add abortion to state constitution

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KION & AP) California voters could get a chance to add abortion protections to the state’s constitution this fall.

With the Supreme Court possibly on its way to overturning Roe v. Wade — after the court confirmed the authenticity of a February draft opinion leaked by news outlet Politico Monday night — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vowed to "fight like hell."

Gov. Newsom, along with Sen. Toni Adkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon committed late Monday to adding an amendment on the ballot this November that would “enshrine the right to choose” in California.

"The draft opinion said that abortion was not explicitly in the U.S. Constitution, even though abortion has always been understood as a fundamental right since Roe v. Wade was decided. We are putting the right to abortion explicitly into the California Constitution and clarifying that it is a fundamental right," said Atkins during a Tuesday press conference.

KION spoke to Bradley Joondeph, a law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law about what the plan would mean.

"For the time being, it wouldn't make any difference because it's already legal," said Joondeph. "Putting it in the state constitution just makes it that much more difficult for some individuals in the future to undo it. It's more cumbersome and you need to go primarily to a ballot initiative to get a constitution changed."

Newsom's Office said their goal is to get the amendment onto this November's ballot, which means they have to act fast. Lawmakers have to vote on the amendment before the end of June to have enough time to print it onto ballots.

However, not all California lawmakers agree. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley tweeted Tuesday, "The leaked opinion would change literally nothing in California. Yet politicians are already using it to push radical policies that go far beyond what Californians of either party support."

"The idea that we'd have a majority of California voters who would vote in a ballot initiative to repeal the right to obtain an abortion within the state seems pretty unlikely, at least in the near term. Things happen over the course of many years and political demographics of states change over time. But it certainly doesn't seem like that's going to happen any time soon," said Joondeph.

But if the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, at least 26 states could be on the path to either restrict abortion access or ban it outright, according to according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy group.

But Gov. Newsom has pledged to make California a sanctuary state for people in other states to get abortions.

State lawmakers currently have endorsed 13 separate bills to do so, including potentially using taxpayer money to pay for people from other states to come to California for abortion procedures.

Lawmakers held a press conference in Sacramento Tuesday to explain their plans.

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.


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