California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a new law strengthening abortion rights in the state, following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
As he signed the bill, Newsom described feeling "pissed, resolved and angry.”
“Never would this happen if men were the ones having babies – ever – and you know that, and I know that. Every damn person knows that. And that's the elephant in the room,” Newsom said. “Because women are treated as second-class citizens in this country. Women are treated as less than. Women are not as free as men. That's pretty damn sick.”
California’s new law, passed by the state legislature on Thursday, will create a protective shield against any potential civil action originating outside the state for anyone performing, assisting, or receiving an abortion in the state. AB 1666 will protect not just California residents but anyone visiting the state seeking reproductive health care.
The new law is just one of more than a dozen bills making their way through the legislature, aiming to strengthen and protect abortion access. Other proposed bills would seek to focus on root causes of reproductive health inequities, enhance privacy protections, and allow qualified nurse practitioners to provide first-trimester abortions.
Anger over the court’s opinion was not limited to Newsom.
“This decision is unique. It is historical. It is unprecedented in a horribly tragic way,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. “This decision is an attack on privacy, on freedom, on self-determination on equality. This decision is an attack on women. It's an attack on women's equality. It's an attack on pregnant people.”
Bonta and Newsom were joined by other lawmakers determined to strengthen the state’s laws and ensure women in other states with more restrictive laws know they can come to California to seek health care.
“California is a safe haven for those who seek abortion care. Abortion remains fully legal in California. Today’s decision does not impact our state’s laws. You have the right to an abortion here,” Bonta said. “In California, we refuse to turn back the clock and let radical ideologies exert control over your body.”
“This is a dark day for our little girls and all our children who will now come of age in a nation with fewer rights, fewer freedoms and fewer protections than the generations before them,” said Bonta, his voice quivering. “That is not progress.”
California has also introduced an amendment adding reproductive health care as a fundamental right to the state’s constitution, which will go before voters in November.
The amendment reads: “The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives. This section is intended to further the constitutional right to privacy guaranteed by Section 1, and the constitutional right to not be denied equal protection guaranteed by Section 7. Nothing herein narrows or limits the right to privacy or equal protection.”
“I hope if nothing else, this decision wakes people up,” the California governor said.
“This is not just about choice, it is not just about reproductive freedom,” Newsom insisted, mentioning marriage equality, interracial marriage, and transgender rights. “They're coming after you next,” he warned.