Bob Egelko wrote last week in the San Francisco Chronicle about the California Supreme Court’s holdings that the state’s constitution, including the express privacy provision in article I, section 1, guarantees the right to abortion and about why, despite those holdings, “Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders are proposing a November ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution to declare” that right.
In American Academy of Pediatrics v. Lungren (1997) 16 Cal.4th 307, 332–333, for example, the court wrote: “Past California cases firmly and unequivocally establish that the interest in autonomy privacy protected by the California constitutional privacy clause includes a pregnant woman’s right to choose whether or not to continue her pregnancy. [Citations.] As these decisions explain, the right to choose whether to continue or to terminate a pregnancy implicates a woman’s fundamental interest in the preservation of her personal health (and in some instances the preservation of her life), her interest in retaining personal control over the integrity of her own body, and her interest in deciding for herself whether to parent a child.” (Footnotes omitted.)
Egelko reported that the motive for having voters weigh in on abortion rights could be not only policy driven, but also to increase Democratic turnout at this year’s general election. The article quotes UC Irvine (but soon-to-be UCLA) law professor, and former Horvitz & Levy colleague, Richard Hasen: “A state constitutional amendment certainly may serve a political purpose. But it also seems a more secure way of explicitly guaranteeing a right to choose than reliance on a judicial determination that could potentially be overturned someday. If it is political, it would hardly be the first time measures (such as on same-sex marriage or the minimum wage) have been put on the ballot to boost turnout.”