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California abortion laws

California’s laws protect the abortion industry, rather than unborn children or their mothers. 


California repealed most of its laws restricting abortion several years before the 1973 United States Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision decriminalized abortion nationally. In 1967, the California Legislature passed the Therapeutic Abortion Act, which allowed doctors to commit abortions on babies up to 21 weeks of pregnancy who were conceived in rape or if the pregnancy threatened the physical or mental health of the mother. Then-Governor Ronald Reagan signed it into law on June 14, 1967.

In 1969, in its People vs. Belous decision, the California Supreme Court found that the United States Constitution and California state constitution recognize a right to privacy that includes a right to abortion. People vs. Belous effectively legalized abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy in California.

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Today, deliberately killing an unborn baby is legal in California

except if:

1. The mother does not consent to the baby’s killing


2. The baby is at least 8 weeks old


In this case, the abortion is murder. (1)


California statutes also declare some abortions to be “unauthorized.”


An abortion is unauthorized in California if:


1.     The killer is not the mother of the child


2.      a. The killer does not have a state-approved medical license or nursing certificate to commit          abortions


b. i) The baby, before being killed, was able to survive outside the womb


ii) In the abortionist’s medical judgment, the baby was able to survive outside the womb


iii) In the abortionist’s medical judgment, the pregnancy posed NO risk to the mother’s physical or mental health (2)


However, there is no civil or criminal penalty for an “unauthorized” abortion performed with the consent of the mother.

California law declares that every woman has a right to abortion and that no state or municipal government may restrict her access to abortion. (3)


Minors may undergo an abortion without their parents’ knowledge or consent. A law on the books mandates that a minor girl must either obtain her parents’ permission or go to court and get a judicial bypass before she has an abortion, but the California Supreme Court struck down the law in 1997, citing minor girls’ alleged right to privacy, and the law was never enforced.(4)  The law was repealed in 2023.


Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid health care program, covers abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. California law requires that almost all health insurance plans, both public and private, cover abortion without any out-of-pocket cost to the patient.


California law requires that, at the request of patients, insurers hide “sensitive” services such as abortions in their communications with policyholders. In other words, children on their parents’ policy can use their insurance to pay for abortions and ask the insurance company to hide it from their parents. (5)


California law requires that state-funded universities provide abortions on campus. (6)


In November 2022, California voters approved Proposition 1, which added abortion and other unspecified “intimate decisions” to the California state constitution.

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.

In 2023-2024 legislative session, the California legislature is considering multiple bills to protect and expand abortion:

AB 602 would encourage lawsuits against pregnancy care centers and clinics for supposedly “false or misleading” statements. 

AB 793 would hinder law enforcement attempting to collect digital evidence of illegal abortions.

AB 2085 would expedite the permit process for building new abortion clinics.

AB 2099 would turn certain misdemeanor crimes against abortion workers into felonies.

AB 2490 would establish a grant program to fund abortion training for hospital staff.

Mother Daughter Portrait

AB 2670 would require the department of health to run a public awareness campaign to direct women to the California government’s abortion website.

AB 3022 would amend the murder statute to create exceptions for doctors, mothers, and those assisting mothers in killing their unborn children.

SB 729 would require insurers to cover in vitro fertilization for same sex couples and single people.

  1. California Code, Penal Code - PC § 187

  2. California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 123468

  3. California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 123462

  4. California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 123450

  5. California Civil Code - CIV § 56.05

  6. California Education Code - EDC § 99251 

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