California steps into the post-Roe future

California has been preparing for this moment for months.

The Golden State, along with a number of Democratic strongholds, has been working to shore up its abortion protections in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

But no other state has created such a comprehensive strategy — a legislative bill package with more than a dozen proposals, new funding to expand abortion access and a proposed November ballot measure that would enshrine the right to abortion in the state Constitution.

The Supreme Court decision, on a 5-4 vote, clears the way for more than half the states in the country to swiftly ban the procedure, a move that puts great pressure on states where abortion will still be legal. California wants to be an abortion haven for pregnant people living under new laws hostile to abortion. 

A restrictive Texas abortion law prompted Newsom last fall to establish a council on the future of abortion. The group drafted a list of recommendations that turned into the long list of abortion-related bills introduced in the California Legislature this year. But it was only until after POLITICO’s reporting of an early majority draft opinion that lawmakers proposed amending the state constitution to explicitly protect the right to abortion, as well as contraception.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 10, which is on track to be placed on the November ballot in the coming days, would ask voters to change the California Constitution to declare that “the state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”

Newsom on Friday afternoon signed into law a bill to shield abortion clinicians and out-of-state patients from abortion laws that threaten to impose criminal penalties. It took effect immediately. Other proposals moving through the Legislature would offer financial help to people coming from other states for abortion-related services.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nearly 50 years of legal precedent upholding a right to end a pregnancy won the support of five of the court’s six conservative justices. Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s three liberal justices opposed overruling Roe

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion, referring to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the case that barred states from banning abortion before the point of fetal viability. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision. This Court cannot bring about the permanent resolution of a rancorous national controversy simply by dictating a settlement and telling the people to move on.”