California is sizing up the battle for the universal right to terminate pregnancies after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Tuesday proposed a bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks.
California's Proposition 1 seeks to add a law to the state Constitution to allow all abortions and says the state "shall not deny or interfere with" the right to an abortion or use of contraceptives, Politico reported.
Graham's bill would attempt to usurp state's rights on a law like California's, but that would set up court battles again that might surface all the way back to the Supreme Court, according to experts.
"If the federal government comes in and says 'no abortions after 15 weeks,' and that is upheld, then there's no abortions after 15 weeks," says Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson. "It doesn't matter what state you live in."
But Levinson's "no abortions after 15 weeks" remark is not an accurate depiction of the Graham bill. It restricts abortions after 15 weeks, but still permits them in the exceptions of rape, incest, and pregnancies that threaten maternal health.
California, an overwhelmingly liberal and pro-choice voting base, will vote on Proposition 1 in these midterms.
Graham's bill is unlikely to pass the House and Senate without the Republican majority after the midterms. Even then, President Joe Biden would be likely to veto it.
This would mean, if Republicans even could get a national 15-week restriction on abortion, a California law would be firepower in the courts against it, according to Berkeley Law’s California Constitution Executive Director David Carrillo, who called it a "major new weapon to combat Congressional overreach."
"A state constitutional right allows California's lawyers to position state sovereignty against federal commerce clause powers," Carrillo told Politico.
Congress would have to use the Commerce Clause to justify authority over states rights on abortion.
"Now more than ever, we must show the rest of the country that we cannot go backward, that we must affirm abortion rights and we must protect the most vulnerable among us," Yes on Proposition 1 co-chairs Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President and CEO Jodi Hicks wrote in a statement, calling Graham's proposal "despicable."
Pro-life Republicans argue "the most vulnerable among us" are those of the unborn.
California is the blue-state leader in the U.S. and ready to lead the fight for universal abortions. After Graham's proposal, California launched abortion.ca.gov to provide access for abortions in California, including those from out of state.
"We have your back," California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a video on the page.
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