California could be the first state to let voters choose whether to codify the right to an abortion, a new development as individual states wrestle with how to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last week.
Golden State lawmakers on Monday passed a resolution to put an amendment to the state’s constitution on the ballot in November that would explicitly make abortion a right in the country’s most populous state. The ballot initiative is one of likely several that will emerge ahead of November’s general elections across the country and it will serve dual purposes.
Foremost, amending state constitutions are the most straightforward way for abortion-friendly state legislatures to address the Court’s decision, which leaves it up to states to decide the legality of abortion. Already about a dozen states have outright banned abortion with at least a dozen more poised to do so in the coming weeks.
From the Washington Post
California currently has some of the most protective abortion policies, advocates say, and local leaders have for months been preparing for an influx of patients from other states in a post-Roe world, where antiabortion legislation will affect roughly half the country. Between 8,000 and 16,000 more people will travel to California for abortion care each year as a result of the new restrictions, predicted one statistical model from UCLA’s Center on Reproductive Health, Law and Policy. Most will probably flock to Los Angeles County.
But secondarily, putting abortion amendments on the ballot is a political strategy for the Democratic party, which was struggling as inflation and sky-high gas prices dominate conversations around the congressional midterms. Democrats risked losing their House and Senate majorities in November ahead of the Court’s abortion decision. Now, they hope that that anti-abortion zealotry in the Republican party will push some women who might have voted Republican to change their minds. Putting abortion amendments on the ballot could bring more voters to the polls, although most of those measures will likely be in states that already lean left.