Following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning what had been a federal constitutional right to abortion services, commonly known as the Roe v Wade decision of 1973, states inaugurated their individual versions for or against that right. In 2002 California passed the Reproductive Privacy Act to conform California law with the language in Roe. That was a statutory right but not a California Constitutional right.
This Proposition, submitted by the leadership of both houses in the state legislature, would take the 2002 language a step further and embed it in the California Constitution.
Obviously, abortion is a deeply personal issue. Women and their families arrive at the decision to have children in light of their own understandings of their individual values, morality, family situations, health, and obligations. In no way does this measure compel anyone to have an abortion nor to forbid it.
The standards in California law on abortion are consistent with the Common Law principles enshrined in Roe: the ages-old understanding that life begins at viability. In turn, Common Law was derived from faith standards that life beings at “first breath” so that viability — the capacity to take that breath — was our historical norm. This means legally the state can have a compelling interest in the fetus in the third trimester with abortion legal only to save the life and health of the mother.
For many people, this standard is insufficient. Life is believed to begin at conception. Abortion is anathema to that belief. Thus the California law honors such beliefs with no mandates that would violate their choice to refrain from abortion in all cases affecting themselves.
We fear that rights taken away or insufficiently secured legally, could have dire consequences not only on abortion but on miscarriage, non-viable fetuses, and the health and well-being of the mother. Those women impacted are definitely living, thinking, loving human beings. The choice of that status for fetuses is individual and personal.
Our care is for the living, the present. Our affirmation of life is for women, children, men, and all families. We want to reduce the need for abortion by raising the supports for those children who are here. But we cannot sacrifice women’s health and safety to engage in being merely pro birth, but not pro life. We trust women. We revere their many roles and how they create a positive, vibrant society. However they choose, let it be their choice, not that of government.
We at California Council of Churches IMPACT believe only individuals directly and immediately impacted by abortion decisions should make choices. No one can mandate abortion for another person. No one can forbid it for another person. We believe the Reproductive Privacy Act honors the law, tradition, and our collective faith principles. We urge a YES vote on this measure.