If Roe is weakened or overturned:
Abortion will remain legal in California. The state’s highest court recognized abortion rights under the California Constitution in 1969, four years before Roe. State law protects the right to personal reproductive decisions.
California law generally prohibits abortion at viability.1 California law includes an unconstitutional and unenforced requirement that a parent or legal guardian consent to a minor’s abortion; it has not been repealed.2 Providers who violate California’s abortion restrictions may face civil and criminal penalties.3
California has enshrined in statute a protection for abortion as a fundamental right.4 The law provides:
The legislature finds and declares that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions. Accordingly, it is the public policy of the State of California that: (a) Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control. (b) Every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child or to choose and to obtain an abortion, except as specifically limited by this article. (c) The state shall not deny or interfere with a woman’s fundamental right to choose to bear a child or to choose to obtain an abortion, except as specifically permitted by this article.5
Furthermore, California has strong state constitutional protections for the right to abortion. Indeed, California recognized the existence of the right of procreative choice under the state constitution four years before the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Roe decision.6 The state constitution was amended to include an explicit protection for privacy and this provision has been interpreted as protecting the right to choose abortion.7
While the state restricts the provision of abortion care to licensed physicians, it authorizes certain advance practice clinicians (APCs) to provide medication or aspiration abortion care during the first trimester.8 California also provides public funding for abortion9 and requires private insurance coverage of abortion.10 The state protects clinic safety and access by prohibiting the obstruction of health-care facilities.11
Laws that could be enforced if Roe v. Wade is limited or overturned
California does not have a pre-Roe ban, as the state legalized some abortions before Roe was decided.12
If Roe v. Wade is limited or overturned, abortion will remain legal in California.
- 1. CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 123468.
- 2. Id. § 123450, invalidated by Am. Acad. of Pediatrics v. Lungren, 16 Cal. 4th 307, 436-45, 940 P.2d 797, 883-89 (1997).
- 3. See, e.g., CAL. BUS. & PROF. CODE § 2052; CAL. PENAL CODE § 1170.
- 4. CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 123462, CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 123466.
- 5. CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 123462.
- 6. People v. Belous, 458 P.2d 194, 199 (Cal. 1969) (“[t]he fundamental right of the woman to choose whether to bear children follows from the Supreme Court’s and this court’s repeated acknowledgement of a ‘right of privacy’ or ‘liberty’ in matters related to marriage, family and sex.”). This case was decided before the California constitutional privacy protections were added to the state constitution in 1974.
- 7. See CAL. CONST. Art. I, § 1 (Added 1974); Comm. to Defend Reprod. Rights v. Myers, 625 P.2d 779 (Cal. 1981) (striking down limits on Medicaid coverage for abortions, finding that all women possess a fundamental constitutional right to choose abortion under the California constitutional privacy provision); Am. Acad. of Pediatrics v. Lungren, 940 P.2d 797 (Cal. 1997) (invalidating parental-consent requirement).
- 8. CAL. BUS. & PROF. CODE § 2253 (b).
- 9. (154)(154) Committee to Defend Reprod. Rights v. Myers, 29 Cal. 3d 252, 625 P.2d 779 (Cal. 1981).
- 10. Michelle Rouillard, Director of Department of Managed Health Care letter to Mark Morgan, California President of Anthem Blue Cross, RE: Limitations or Exclusions of Abortion Services. August 22, 2014.
- 11. CAL. CIV. CODE § 3427.1.
- 12. Therapeutic Abortion Act, CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 25950 et seq. (West Supp. 1971).