California Black Leaders Rally to Protect Reproductive Rights With Proposition 1

Writer – Keith D.
On November 8th, the right to ensure reproductive freedom to all future generations is on the ballot in California. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June which overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the constitutional protection for abortion nationwide, states have been scrambling to set their own policies determining whether the right an abortion is allowed in their state. While over 18 states have already imposed harsh restrictions on the procedure, in the upcoming midterm elections Californians will get the opportunity to enshrine access to reproductive healthcare as a fundamental right by voting for Proposition 1.
Prop 1 provides that, “the state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to chose to have an abortion and their fundimental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”
   California State Senator Sydney Kamlager, who voted for Prop 1 to be put on the ballot, spoke at a recent Yes On 1 press conference, explaining the urgency for the bill.
“Extremeists and legislatures across this country, and even in congress, are already working around the clock to pass abortion bans and other laws that restrict reproductive rights. We may feel safe here in California but we cannot take our rights for granted anymore, we refuse to go backwards,” sais Kamlager. “That is why I am voting yes on Proposition 1– to explicitly add the right to abortion to our state constitution, making sure that our fundamental right to access abortion care is protected in California now and for generations to come.”
Currently in California the right to access an abortion is  protected by state law through a right to privacy in the state constitution. Prop 1 would amend the state constitution to explicitly provide the right to abortion services and contraception so that future lawmakers cannot change their minds or judges cannot reinterpret the right to privacy in California.
“One of the most important votes we’re going to cast in this election cycle is making sure we vote yes on Proposition 1, the ballot measure that will create a firewall around reproductive rights here in California and ensure that the decision to seek abortion care is guided by medical professionals and made by each person’s own personal decisions,” said California State Senator and Chair of the California Balck Caucus Steve Bradford, who also put an emphasis on the historical inequities black people have faced when dealing with their own bodily autonomy.
“The sexual and reproductive health of African American women has been compromised for many years due to the multiple experiences of racism including discriminatory healthcare practices from slavery through the post civil war reconstruction. In many cases black women did not have the choice to make about their reproductive healthcare. I want to be sure they have the legal right to make that decision and have access to quality healthcare”, said Bradford.
Though opponents of the bill fear that the it’s broad sweeping language will allow for extreme cases of abortions late into pregnancy, or up until the moment of birth, legal experts affirm that the intent of the law is to reaffirm the right to abortion in California so it is unrealistic that it would be interpreted by a judge to allow an abortion at any time.  Currently in California abortion is only legal after 24 weeks of pregnancy if it’s “necessary to protect the life or health of the woman”, and nothing in in Prop 1 changes that.
California State Assembly Member Dr. Akilah Weber who is a board certified OBGYN shared her experience working on the front lines of the medical profession and why this vote is so important to black women.
 “I have dedicated my entire professional career to ensuring that all girls and women have access to the best and comprehensive health care which includes reproductive health care,” said Dr. Weber. “I have counseled many women and girls who find themselves in a position where they have an unintended pregnancy, and for those who chose to discontinue the pregnancy– it is never an easy decision, but it is her decision to make. I am also keenly aware of the increased risk that pregnancies pose to black women due to a variety of medical and societal factors. So forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy will not only have potentially devastating impacts on her health and could lead to her death, but it could also significantly impact her economic and educational future potential. These conversations and decisions are life changing, very important and extremely private and should stay between a person and their provider and not driven by political agendas. That is why I co-authored the measure and voted yes to put Proposition 1 on the ballot.”
Policy Analyst for Black Women’s Wellness, Onyemma Obiekea pointed out the urgency for the protection in that infant mortality is already four to six times higher for black women in California, and referenced a University of Colorado Study that projects material mortality to rise 33 percent for black women in the years following the fall of Roe v. Wade.
“This is our opportunity to flex our power to vote and deliver a legacy of freedom, self determination and autonomy for future generations,” said Obiekea. “California must deliver a legacy of reproductive freedom to its future generations by establishing the strongest possible processions over these fundamental rights including the right to abortion care and contraception.”


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