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What the Texas Abortion Law Means for California

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The near-total ban on abortions in Texas that began last week has reverberated across the nation, with abortion rights advocates fearful of what’s to come as lawmakers in some states pledge to follow suit.

But the looming question in recent days has been what will happen to Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Some experts say the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the strict Texas legislation to go into effect suggests it may soon overturn what has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years.

But what does any of this mean for liberal California? The state is home to more than a quarter of the nation’s abortion facilities, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

I reached out to experts to find out how the Texas law and the possible repeal of Roe v. Wade could affect California, where more than 100,000 abortions are performed each year.

These were the main takeaways:

The right to an abortion is enshrined in our State Constitution, and the new Texas law doesn’t affect that.

If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, which could happen next spring, the right to an abortion would be determined by state laws.

California and 13 other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have laws on the books that would keep abortions legal, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute.

In 22 other states, abortion would probably quickly become illegal if Roe were overturned. An America without Roe is not one without any legal abortion, but one with wildly unequal access, as my colleagues have reported.

Some people in states where it’s difficult to obtain abortions may travel to California for treatment. In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a proclamation “welcoming women to California to fully exercise their reproductive rights.”

Last year, Planned Parenthood clinics in California treated 7,000 patients from other states, a large portion of whom were from Texas, according to Shannon Olivieri Hovis, director of NARAL Pro-Choice California.

Abortion laws in states closer to Texas may include waiting periods or other restrictions that deter women from seeking care there, said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a reproductive sciences professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

“While California is geographically pretty far from Texas it may make sense for some people to get on a plane and come here,” Grossman told me. “I think we will as providers here in California be prepared for increased demand for services.”

Nationwide, 38 percent of reproductive-age women live in a county without an abortion clinic, according to Guttmacher. In Texas, before the new law, that fraction was 43 percent.

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In California, it’s 3 percent.

Over the past week, Newsom has seized upon the Texas decision to rally voters. He warned on Twitter that the ban “could be the future of CA” if the recall were successful.

The stakes feel high for many abortion supporters: “There’s no worse timing possibly imaginable than a world where California ends up with an anti-choice governor at a time when Roe v. Wade falls and abortion rights go back to the states,” Olivieri Hovis told me.

But while it’s true that Larry Elder, the leading replacement candidate, has called abortion “murder” and said Roe v. Wade was “one of the worst decisions” by the Supreme Court, anybody who replaces Newsom might not be able to do that much to roll back abortion rights.

Amending the State Constitution requires approval from more than 50 percent of voters, a margin difficult to achieve given the widespread support for abortion here. And an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature would probably oppose abortion restrictions.

A new governor may be able to enact relatively small-scale changes that would almost exclusively affect women on Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid insurance program for low-income people that funds roughly half the abortions in the state, Kaiser Health News reported.

For example, the governor could veto bills expanding access to abortion for Medi-Cal patients or set the reimbursement rates for abortion so low that no doctors could afford to perform the procedure.

For more:

Today’s travel tip comes from a reader, Laura Bergman, who writes:

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have family in Ventura. We don’t drive down to see them without stopping in our favorite off-the-beaten-path tiny town called Los Olivos. We enjoy wine tasting, olive tasting and browsing the cute little town.


The Marin Independent Journal published six-word stories about friendship. Here are some of the best ones submitted by readers:

We laughed then, we laugh now. — Jesse N. Alvarez, Novato

Lovers excite. Faithful friends forever delight. — Gailya Magdalena, Lucas Valley

Two hearts, two minds, shared thoughts. — Sharon Eide, Novato


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: U2, for one (4 letters).

Steven Moity and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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