California Democrats Likely to Overplay Their Hand on Abortion

May 14, 2022 Updated: May 15, 2022


The U.S. Supreme Court’s likely impending reversal of its Roe v. Wade decision will make this year’s campaign in California even more fascinating to watch. Abortion has not been an election issue in the state in decades. Californians generally favor abortion rights to some degree, leading California Democrats to believe they have found a winning issue in a year in which they have little else going for them.

To maximally capitalize on the issue, they are rushing to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. In so doing, however, they are likely to overplay their hand and ultimately turn off voters when they see how extreme the Democrat position is.

Many California candidates will have to address the abortion issue for the first time. To the extent the question arose in the past, their answers were easy. For Democrats, they simply asserted their support for a woman’s right to choose as confirmed by Roe. For Republicans, they asserted their pro-life position, but noted that due to Roe, there was nothing they could do.

But this year will be different. Democrats will have to explain what they intend to do in the absence of Roe, i.e., what is the extent of a woman’s right to choose? Republicans will have to explain the extent of their pro-life position, i.e., is an abortion acceptable under any circumstances? The winning party will be the one that strikes the right balance.

Republicans are likely to continue to duck the question, noting they are pro-life but that the California constitution has been held to protect the right to choose—so there is nothing they can do. If pushed, they must be prepared to provide specifics on what restrictions are appropriate. Most Californians want reasonable restrictions. A complete ban on abortions is not mainstream and not practical as what is illegal always goes underground.

Democrats must also avoid the extreme, but early indications are not good for them. Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans soon after the draft opinion leaked for a constitutional amendment protecting abortion. Newsom clearly sees a political opportunity. A poll last year by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that 80 percent of California likely voters do not want Roe overturned, with even 59 percent of Republicans agreeing. He already has campaign ads responding to the leaked opinion.

The proposed ballot initiative is wholly political since California’s constitution already contains an express right to privacy which the California Supreme Court has ruled protects a woman’s right to choose. In fact, the court held that the right is so profound that the state must pay for the abortions of those on Medi-Cal.

With abortion rights already constitutionally protected in California, it is doubtful abortion will be top of mind for voters. California faces unprecedented problems, from gas prices and inflation to crime and homelessness. But since Democrats presided over this mess, these are not winning issues for them. With nothing else to run on, they have no choice but to run on the abortion issue.

What will be in the Democrats’ constitutional amendment? Current state law protects a woman’s right to abort a fetus within the first six months of pregnancy, i.e., pre-viability outside the womb, for any reason. This already goes beyond the Roe decision, which allows for reasonable government restrictions after just three months. In addition. no parental consent is required for minors and there are no waiting periods. Do Californians really demand even fewer restrictions?

We have some preview as to where they are heading. Newsom and California legislators announced they want to make California a “sanctuary state” for abortion and to enhance “reproductive justice.” State legislators have presented thirteen bills to further embolden the right to choose. Many are designed to respond to women (and, as they often highlight, transgender men) seeking abortions from out of state, even going as far as to use California taxpayers’ money to help cover their expenses. Do Californians support that?

The bills refer to “reproductive justice.”

One bill funds an internet website to promote abortion services in the state and an outreach campaign to inform the public on how to access an abortion. It would provide funding for low-income women to get abortions. It also funds “research to support equitable access to abortion.” Since we know equity is all about equal outcomes, this research will no doubt focus on making sure “black and brown” communities abort at a similar rate as the “privileged” white communities. Do Californians support paying for so many abortions, with a special focus on minority abortions?

Another bill effectively legalizes abortion right up to the date of delivery. It protects women from any criminal or civil liability for an abortion at any time. It expressly protects women who engage in a “self-managed abortion, which means ending one’s own pregnancy outside of the medical system.” Do Californians support a woman legally “aborting” her own baby, and then presumably dropping the baby in a dumpster, right up to the time of delivery?

The constitutional amendment will likely mirror what Democrats are pushing in Congress in their attempt to “codify Roe.” That bill does not speak of protecting women’s rights, but “people capable of becoming pregnant. … It is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy—cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others.”

“Reproductive justice” is at the center of the bill, which it says addresses restrictions on abortion “that perpetuate systems of oppression, lack of bodily autonomy, white supremacy, and anti-Black racism.” Do Californians, who have twice voted against racial preferences in hiring and school admissions, support the notion that abortion rights is really about racism and anti-LGBTQ?

If this kind of stuff is in the Democrats’ November ballot imitative, the proposed amendment will likely fail. This will not bode well for the Democrat candidates who rely on this issue to mask their failures on so many other issues Californians care about more.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James Breslo
James Breslo is a civil rights attorney and host of the "Hidden Truth Show" podcast. He was formerly a partner at the international law firm Seyfarth Shaw and public company president. He has appeared numerous times as a legal expert on Fox News and CNN.