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California repealed most of its laws restricting abortion several years before abortion was decriminalized nationally by the 1973 United States Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision. 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.
Today, killing an unborn baby is legal in California except if:
1. a. The mother does not consent to the baby’s killing
b. The baby is at least 8 weeks old
In this case, the abortion is murder. (1)
2. The killer does not have the state-approved medical license or nursing certificate (nurses and physician assistants are permitted to commit abortions in the first trimester)
In this case, the abortion is an illegal procedure. (2)
3. a.The baby, before being killed, was able to survive outside the womb
b. In the abortionist’s medical judgment, the baby was able to survive outside the womb
c. In the abortionist’s medical judgment, the pregnancy posed no risk to the mother’s physical or mental health.
In this case, the abortion is designated as "unauthorized" by the law. (3)
California statute declares that every woman has a right to abortion and that no state or municipal government may restrict her access to abortion. (4)
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 the girls’ alleged right to privacy, and the law has never been enforced. (5)
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 out of pocket costs 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. (6)
California law requires that state-funded universities provide abortions on campus, starting in January 2023. (7)
In 2022, the California legislature passed multiple more bills to protect and expand abortion:
SB 1142: Funding Abortion Tourism: This bill facilitates abortions by helping cover travel costs and other expenses, such as childcare, for women seeking abortion in California.
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.
SB 1245: Making Abortion More Easily Available: This bill would create and fund a pilot program in the County of Los Angeles to build new abortion facilities and suppress anti-abortion information.
SB 1375: Lowering Abortion Safety Standards: This bill removes some of the doctor oversight requirements for nurses who perform abortions.
AB 657 Expedite Abortionists: would require state medical boards to expedite the approval of licenses for those who will perform abortions.
AB 1242 Restrict Law Enforcement: would prohibit law enforcement officers from aiding in the enforcement of other states' abortion restrictions
AB 1666: Protect Abortionists From Lawsuits: This bill prohibits California courts from enforcing any civil action from another state against a person who assists someone in getting an abortion.
AB 1918: Abortion Corps: This bill would establish a state-run abortion corps and recruit abortionists by paying student debt for those who agree to join the corps.
AB 2091: Secret Illegal Abortions: This bill prohibits the release of medical information related to abortion in response to out-of-state subpoenas based on abortion restrictions.
AB 2134: Require Abortion Advertising: This bill would require churches and other employers who object to paying for abortion coverage for their employees to advertise state-funded abortions.
AB 2223: Remove Legal Protections from Babies and Removes all Abortion Safety Standards: This bill would allow anyone to commit an abortion or assist in the death of baby at any point in pregnancy and would prevent investigations of infant deaths.
AB 2586: Abortion Disparity Study Group: This bill would create a working group to study abortion in the state and make recommendations on how to remove “barriers to abortion access,” which are to include funding abortion facilities and pro-abortion information campaigns.
Proposition 1: In June of 2022, the legislature introduced a bill to amend the California constitution to explicitly list abortion and decisions having to do with "reproductive freedom" as constitutional rights in California. The bill was passed by the legislature and the constitutional amendment will be Proposition 1 on the November 2022 general election ballot for the voters to approve or disapprove.
The proposed 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.
Download a printable PDF about Proposition 1 here.
Download a printable PDF about Proposition 1 in Spanish here.
California Code, Penal Code - PC § 187
California Code, Business and Professions Code - BPC § 2253
California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 123468
California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 123462
California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 123450
California Civil Code - CIV § 56.05
California Education Code - EDC § 99251