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At LA Planned Parenthood, Gov. Newsom Vows To Enshrine Abortion Rights In State Constitution

Governor Gavin Newsom, wearing a dark suit and tie, speaks before a cluster of microphones, flanked by a women on either side of him. Behind him are about a dozen people holding pinks signs that say "Bans off our bodies" and "I stand with Planned Parenthood."
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in front of a crowd of Planned Parenthood workers at Wednesday's news conference.
(David Wagner
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In an appearance Wednesday at Planned Parenthood’s Los Angeles headquarters in South L.A., Gov. Gavin Newsom said California has begun the process of enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution.

Newsom’s promise to make California a safe haven for reproductive rightscomes in response to the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision that would overturnRoe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that underpins the legal right to an abortion.

Standing in front of Planned Parenthood workers holding signs reading “Bans Off Our Bodies,” Newsom said he began meeting with state legislators months ago to plan for this moment.

“Sadly, we've been anticipating this,” the governor said. “We will affirm the currently constitutionally protected rights of women and girls — the reproductive rights and freedoms in California.”

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If the Supreme Court issues a final decision overturning Roe, abortion rights will be left to states to allow, regulate or ban. Newsom said in that event, California’s goal will be to provide abortion access to any woman arriving in the state seeking care.

“To the extent that that need will grow, as a dozen or 20-plus states restrict that access, California will do its best to provide for as many people as we can,” he said.

An amendment to California’s constitution would require two-thirds support from both state legislative branches. It would then go before the state’s voters for final approval. Newsom said he hopes to put the issue before voters this November.

Homelessness and housing affordability consistently rank as top concerns for California voters, but Newsom signaled that the Supreme Court’s apparent decision to throw out Roe will change that. He tweeted Wednesday that abortion “will be the defining issue of the 2022 election.” His reelection campaign released an advertisement blasting long-shot Republican opponent Brian Dahle for his stance on abortion rights.

Newsom told voters to “wake up to who you're electing,” saying the Supreme Court’s current conservative majority could soon roll back other rights such as marriage equality. He also expressed frustration with national leaders of his own party for not doing more to fight back.

“This is a concerted, coordinated effort. And yes, they're winning,” Newsom said. “We need to stand up. Where's the counter offensive?”

The governor predicted California will have significant influence on the issue, potentially inspiring action in other Democratic states. Newsom said companies that have left California for cheaper states like Texas may end up regretting the decision.

“The idea that you're moving your companies, and then you have to pay for your employees to travel back … Maybe they should start reconsidering some of those decisions as well,” he said.

California reproductive health care providers have already taken steps to serve women who may end up needing to cross state lines to seek an abortion.

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Joining Newsom at the press conference, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles President Sue Dunlap said her organization is preparing for an influx of women from other states seeking treatment.

“We've been working with our hospital partners, with a variety of partners across Los Angeles across the state, in addition to our legislative and gubernatorial leaders, and really are doing all that we can to anticipate this moment,” she said.

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