SAN DIEGO — A proposition on the Nov. 8 general election ballot would enshrine abortion in the California state constitution and remove all abortion restrictions, even for late-term abortions.
Opponents of Proposition 1, including California’s Catholic bishops, warn that the measure is extreme even for a state with some of the country’s most permissive abortion laws and would set a nationwide precedent.
Under current California law, abortion is already legal until viability and, when the woman’s life or health is in danger, even after that.
“Proposition 1 is especially egregious because it goes beyond even our state’s very permissive abortion laws,” said Molly Sheahan, associate director of Life & Family Advocacy at the California Catholic Conference.
The proposition has been dubbed the “Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment.” It would amend the state constitution to guarantee unlimited access to abortion and artificial contraception.
The California Catholic Conference (CCC), the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in California, has joined a coalition called California Together, which is urging Californians to vote “No” on Proposition 1.
In a state like California, where a majority of the population identifies as pro-choice, opponents of Proposition 1 face an uphill battle.
But Sheahan explained that the proposition is so extreme that it is actually out of step with most Californians, even those who consider themselves pro-choice – and therein lies a path to victory on Election Day.
According to California Together, polling shows that a center-right, bipartisan coalition forms against Proposition 1 — 47% against, 42% in favor and 11% undecided — once voters hear the arguments against the proposition.
The challenge for the proposition’s opponents is getting this information known, which is why the CCC is promoting voter education.
Sheahan predicted that the proposition would lead to several outcomes that even pro-choice voters would find undesirable.
For example, she said polling shows that a significant majority of California voters oppose late-term abortions and do not want to lift existing restrictions on them — 60%, according to a statewide poll of 800 likely voters, combined with focus group findings of non-Republican younger voters.
Support for the legality of abortion doesn’t mean that California voters want their tax dollars paying for it. According to the previously cited poll, voters by a margin of 58% to 17% said the amount of money being spent on abortions would make them more likely to vote no on Proposition 1.
The Official Voter Information Guide for the November election says that Proposition 1 would have “no direct fiscal effect because reproductive rights already are protected by state law.”
But Maria Valencia, associate director of Culture of Life in the Diocese of San Diego’s Office for Life, Peace and Justice, finds that claim misleading. By removing all abortion restrictions and making California an abortion “sanctuary,” the numbers of abortions performed here will only go up, she said.
“If (they) want to increase the business of abortion in California, it’s going to take more money,” Valencia said.
In this year’s state budget deal, $205 million was dedicated to expand access to abortion and reproductive health care in what the California Future of Abortion Council described as a “historic budget investment.” A total of $40 million of that will go directly to subsidize the cost of providing abortions for low-income or uninsured patients.
“This money is not earmarked in Prop. 1, it’s true,” said Sheahan. “But Prop. 1 establishes an explicit and unrestricted right to abortion to the moment of birth. Rights come with duties of the state, and California as a sanctuary state will have a vast increase of women coming from out of state for that right.”
Sheahan said that UCLA’s Center on Law and Reproductive Health is estimating that 10,600 more women will come to California for abortions each year, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and many states ban the procedure. And, if California further expands abortion under Proposition 1, these numbers will only grow.
She said proponents of Proposition 1 have even admitted that the current level of tax funding may be insufficient.
Californians are urged to learn more at noproposition1.com, where they can sign up for campaign updates. The campaign welcomes financial donations, which will help it to spread the word.
Sheahan also asks California Catholics to pray and help to get out the vote.
Valencia said that each of the 12 (arch)dioceses in California promoted voter registration in August and, in September, will focus on educating voters about Proposition 1.
In October, observed annually as “Respect Life Month,” there will be nine consecutive days of prayer for life and for the defeat of the proposition. The novena will take place from Sept. 28 to Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Fittingly enough, the feast marks the anniversary of the 16th-century Battle of Lepanto, where vastly outnumbered Christian forces won a pivotal naval battle against the Ottoman Empire; the miraculous victory was credited to the intercession of the Blessed Mother through the rosary.