The Fall of Roe

The Supreme Court is likely soon to overturn Roe v. Wade.  With its fall, 49-year-old protections for abortion rights under our U.S. Constitution will end.  The imminent fall of Roe is shining a light on how central abortion rights are to women. Under Roe, abortion rights have been rooted in our Constitution and protected by our courts.  If people no longer have control over their own pregnancies, if they don’t have privacy rights preventing laws that criminalize or forbid their decisions, where does this rollback of rights take us?  Are there other ways to protect abortion access?

The answer in California is that our state must and will step in.  A 2002 state law provides protections similar to Roe’s.  Our courts have said that the right to privacy in our state Constitution protects abortion rights. And specific protection for abortion access in California is being proposed in a Constitutional Amendment that may go before voters this November.

So, if Roe is overruled, California will be among the states with their own abortion rights protections. And California is moving beyond legal protections.  Our state legislators are working on a raft of measures to expand abortion access.  Those measures are an outgrowth of the California Future of Abortion Council.  The Council was formed late last year in response to the risk that Roe would fall.  Citizens for Choice actively supports the Council’s recommendations.  To view the Council measures we are supporting, and our full advocacy agenda and successes, visit the Advocacy page on our website at

We are committed to pushing for California to be a haven for women living in states where they do not enjoy access to safe and legal abortion care.  If Roe falls, about 26 states are expected to have bans or restrictions on abortion in place soon afterward.  Such laws will place women’s health and lives at risk.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, 1.4 million women of reproductive age might find California to be the nearest state where they might access abortion care (currently 46,000).   Already, tragic stories are being told of pregnant women residing in Texas under a six-week abortion ban.  In one case, a woman whose pregnancy became unviable after 19 weeks had a harrowing experience, forced to travel to another state to terminate her pregnancy despite the extreme danger to her health.

We invite you, our supporters, to stand with us, to ensure that California becomes a safe-haven state. Because we believe that abortion access is a basic, fundamental human right.

Elaine Sierra

Public Policy Director