California voters must reject ‘no limit’ Proposition 1 abortion amendment, critics say

Participants in a demonstration against Proposition 1 outside the California capitol in Sacramento, Oct. 6, 2022. Participants in a demonstration against Proposition 1 outside the California capitol in Sacramento, Oct. 6, 2022. | Photo courtesy of California's No on Prop. 1 Campaign

Unlimited abortion would become a fundamental right, as would abortion on viable unborn children, if voters pass the proposed California ballot measure Proposition 1, a broad coalition has warned.

“The proposed amendment to the state constitution has no language on limits and no recognition of the viability of the infant and late-term pregnancies,” Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said at an Oct. 6 press conference outside the capitol in Sacramento.

He said Proposition 1 seeks to make abortion a “fundamental right” in California while “removing any commonsense limits on late-term abortions.”

The California Together, No On Proposition 1 press conference drew speakers from various political and religious backgrounds, including Catholics, evangelicals, Muslims, and backers and foes of legal abortion.

Soto said Proposition 1 is “an unneeded, radical, and expensive proposition.” He invoked Pope Francis’ rejection of a “throwaway culture,” saying “the leaders of a ‘throwaway society’ are trying to impose an expensive ideology on California.”

The proposed amendment, titled “Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom,” was placed on the November ballot by the state legislature, with support from abortion provider Planned Parenthood. Amendment backers anticipated the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision overturning the pro-abortion rights Roe v. Wade decision.

The text of Proposition 1 reads, in part: “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.”

Critics emphasized the proposed amendment’s lack of limits on legal abortion.

“We are here to say that Prop. 1 is extreme, expensive, and unnecessary,” Catherine Hadro, media director of California Together, No on Proposition 1 said Wednesday. “We all know that Prop 1. means late-term abortion in California up until the moment of birth, even if both mother and baby are healthy. And we all agree that that is too extreme. That is why we are coming together to stop Prop. 1.”

According to Hadro, only 13% of Californians support unrestricted legal abortion. The proposition’s creators left out viability language “on purpose,” she said. She encouraged voters to read the ballot measure and take note that viability language is missing.

“Proposition 1 means post-viability, late-term abortion without limit paid for by your taxpayer dollars,” she said.

When the California Legislature debated the proposal, lawmakers asked whether it would allow abortion past viability, when an unborn child can survive outside the womb. A promised answer never came.

Dr. Pratima Gupta, a San Diego obstetrician-gynecologist involved in drafting the law, told the Northern California radio station KQED that drafters deliberately excluded the word “viability.” She said every pregnancy is “individual” and a “continuum.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a generally pro-abortion rights organization, removed the term “viability” from its guidance on abortion in May.

Speakers at Thursday’s press conference included Democrats for Life communications director Jess Meeth, Democrat attorney Christopher Bakes, International Faith Based Coalition president Tak Allen, and Tarbiya Institute representative Mashal Ayobi. They were joined by California Family Council communications coordinator Sophia Lorey and Traditional Values for Next Generations founder Sarah Kim.

“Together with our partners here around this podium we see the illogic, the imprudence and the danger of Proposition 1,” Bishop Soto said. “We have been companions for women who find themselves alone and unsupported. This mission will continue. Say ‘no’ to Prop. 1 and let us offer better alternatives to women and children.”

Ann Stone, Republicans for Choice founder and national chairman, said Prop. 1 is “a sloppy over-reach by the pro-choice side.”

“It doesn’t codify Roe. It goes beyond. Badly beyond,” she said.

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One speaker delivered remarks on behalf of Kristin Turner, executive director of Pro-life San Francisco and a self-identified progressive vegan atheist. Turner said the proposal is “an extreme violation of human rights” and contradicts what Californians know about the humanity of the unborn child.  

“The majority of us can see that at 7, 8, 9 months old, that is clearly a baby,” she said. Turner advocated that California direct money to better causes, like reducing maternal mortality, which especially affects Black women.

Dr. Vansen Wong, an obstetrician-gynecologist, is among the critics of the measure. He performed hundreds of abortions before he rejected the procedure as morally wrong.

Wong warned of the medical problems that abortion can cause after 21 weeks. Women who have late-term abortions face a greater risk of pre-term delivery in future pregnancies and are at greater risk of delivering babies with no hope of survival. Women who have late-term abortions face greater mental health risks including anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.

Bishop Soto said that October is “a time to renew our commitment to pray, advocate and do works of mercy promoting the dignity of human life.”

“For almost 50 years the Catholic community has been an alternative voice of reason protecting the dignity of human life in the womb,” he said.

“We are here to present a different vision and offer the hopes of a better California,” the bishop said. “The Gospel of Jesus gives life and hope to all. Like the first disciples of Jesus, we are fortunate to have been chosen, to be messengers of a life-changing, life-giving Gospel in a time of great change and turmoil in California.” 

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Foes of the measure must work to sway voters. Though an August poll from Rasmussen Reports indicated that only 13% of California voters support abortion through the third trimester, an August survey from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies said that 71% of the state’s voters would vote in favor of Proposition 1.

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