SACRAMENTO – In a historic moment for California, the state Assembly today passed SCA 10, a constitutional amendment to make explicit the fundamental constitutional right to abortion and contraceptives in a 58-16 vote. The bill, jointly authored by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), and co-authored by a large coalition of Democratic Legislators, successfully passed its final legislative requirement just three days after the U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.
"Abortion is health care, and should be a private discussion between a patient and their health care provider," said Pro Tem Atkins. "When politicians and judges force themselves into that room, safety goes out the window. Friday was a dark day. Today, we provide a ray of hope by enabling voters to enshrine reproductive rights in our constitution, reflecting California's values and protecting all who need abortion, contraceptives, and other reproductive care in our state."
Pro Tem Atkins and Speaker Rendon introduced SCA 10 shortly after the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson was leaked in May, indicating that the Court would likely issue a ruling that would reverse Roe v. Wade and undercut nearly five decades of precedence that protects access to abortion. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and NARAL Pro-Choice California are the primary co-sponsors of SCA 10, which also is co-authored by 30 Senators and 52 Assemblymembers.
"With the court punching holes in constitutional protections, our rights are in free fall," said Speaker Rendon. "SCA 10 is our opportunity to turn to California voters – who have strongly supported abortion rights – and let them enshrine this crucial right in California's Constitution. I am proud to be its joint author."
SCA 10 passed both houses with a two-thirds majority vote – the only requirement for it to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. It does not need to be signed by the governor. In November, voters will be able to decide whether it should become law, marking the first time that California has given voters the opportunity to add the right to abortion and contraception to the state constitution, and further solidifying California's longtime standing as a nationwide leader on reproductive rights.
In 1969, four years before Roe v. Wade, the California Supreme Court held that Californians have the fundamental constitutional right to procreative choice. Three years later, the state passed a constitutional amendment to explicitly provide for the right to privacy. Those rulings complemented the U.S Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which held that the constitutional right to choose is vested in the United States Constitution.
SCA 10 is one component of a slate of legislation introduced this year to protect and expand reproductive rights in the Golden State, including a package of thirteen bills from the California Legislative Women's Caucus. Two of those bills, SB 245, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez and AB 1666, authored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, have already been signed into law. Additionally, the 2022 Budget Agreement by the Legislature and the Governor includes hundreds of millions in funds for reproductive health services — the final agreement will be voted on by the Legislature later this week.
Website of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon: www.asmdc.org/speaker
Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins