California Democrats have denounced rumored plans of the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and have vowed to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and provide out-of-state abortion seekers with free services.
When news that a leaked draft of a Supreme Court majority opinion surfaced May 2, California Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote on Twitter, “Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will not be silenced. The world is about to hear their fury. California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) told The Epoch Times on Tuesday that Democrats’ push to pay for abortions for out-of-state residents is “insane.”
“What they’re doing is really over the top. Paying for the abortions for women from all across the country? That’s just insane,” Melendez said.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the ruling wouldn’t ban abortion nationwide, but instead, let each state legislature decide.
“It’s par for the course for Sacramento Democrats,” Melendez said. “They’re all outraged and they think other states are going to take away a woman’s right to abortion.”
Melendez contends that amending the state constitution would be pointless.
“It’s idiotic,” she said. “Because if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, it doesn’t change anything in California. They already have the right to abortion in California, and that is not going to change. So, them saying they’re going to amend the constitution to make it really, really legal in California is all political bluster. It changes nothing. It’s just them making a statement.”
What other states do “has nothing to do with California, but, of course, they always want to make sure they’re out in front and taking a stand,” she said of the state Democrats.
Her opposition to amending the constitution to include abortion rights is “separate and aside from the fact that I don’t think California should be paying for abortions for anybody, let alone people from clear across the country,” Melendez said.
Newsom said yesterday that his administration plans to work with the state senate and assembly to put an initiative on the ballot proposing to amend the state constitution to enshrine abortion rights.
The governor, State Senate Leader Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) issued a joint statement in response to the leaked preliminary U.S. Supreme Court majority draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
“California will not stand idly by as women across America are stripped of their rights and the progress so many have fought for gets erased. We will fight. California is proposing an amendment to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state,” the trio said in the statement. “We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution. Women will remain protected here.”
Details of the proposed amendment have not been released to the public.
The Democratic Party’s plan to use Roe v. Wade to portray themselves as champions of women’s rights in an election year might not work as well as they’ve planned, Melendez said.
“The rate of abortions has been declining over the years, so it might not be the lightning rod issue that they think it is with the majority of the population. So, if they do put this on the ballot in California, I’m going to be very curious as to how voters express their opinion on that,” she said.
“It’s a political thing, of course. It’s a wedge issue, and they’re certainly going to try to seize upon that, but I don’t see how that’s going to help them. Frankly, I still think that Democrats are going to get shellacked in November,” she said.
In recent months, the Democratic lawmakers have anticipated the possibility that Roe v. Wade could be overturned and have introduced a slate of pro-abortion bills. Sen. Atkins said in a prelude to Newsom’s State of the State address on March 8 that California state is working to expand abortion services.
“While we watch state legislatures and courts across the nation roll back the progress we’ve made on reproductive rights, California is strengthening and expanding access to health and abortion care,” Atkins said.
One of the bills, Senate Bill 1142 by Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would set up a state-controlled fund to pay for abortions for women with low incomes, including out-of-state residents.
“It’s a fund that they’re going to create which is going to help pay for the abortion, pay for their airfare, their gas, their lodging, meals, childcare, translators, doulas if they want. I mean, you name it,” Melendez said.
She criticized the authors of the bill who’ve suggested the money for expanded abortion services would be both privately and taxpayer-funded.
“They haven’t figured out yet how they’re going to separate those monies and how they’re going to dole them out,” she said. “Isn’t that kind of an important part of the bill?”
Another bill, Assembly Bill 2134, by Assemblywoman Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), would provide grants to health care providers who offer abortion services to low-income women whose health insurance doesn’t cover abortion or contraception. It passed the Assembly Health Committee by a 10–3 vote on April 26.
And, last month, hundreds of protesters converged on the state Capitol Building in Sacramento to protests another abortion bill introduced by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland). Assembly Bill (AB) 2223 on “reproductive health,” is known as the “infanticide bill” among opponents.
Melendez, who is vice-chair of the Senate Health Committee, said she expects to see AB 2223 cross her desk in June.