2019 is a year that shattered the old guard of the abortion consensus. After over 4 decades of bi-partisan support for restricting federal funds for abortion and respecting the conscience rights of pro-life Americans, the incoming 2019 Congress now contains a record number of lawmakers opposed to the Hyde Amendment.
These legislators are now joined by every major Democratic candidate for President. “Safe, Legal, and Rare” has been replaced by, “Anytime, Any Reason, and Paid for by Everyone”. Sadly, this shift has rippled to statehouses across our Nation. Abortion activists under the call for “access” have sought to further erode Hyde at the state level by enacting even more expanded public funding of abortion and usurping the constitutional conscience protection of the pro-life minorities in these states.
Here in California, we face the most extreme of these efforts: Senate Bill 24 or SB 24. This bill would require all 34 of California’s public colleges & universities to turn their student health centers into abortion facilities by forcing distribution of the RU-486 chemical abortion pill. The bill contains no guaranteed conscience protections for students or health center staff and would result in up to 6,000 abortions annually.
Not even New York, Illinois, and Virginia, who recently signed hard line 3rd trimester abortion bills, nor any of the other 12 states that also hand out Medicaid funds for abortion, have an SB 24-type bill in consideration. California stands alone, advocating for the most extreme public funding of abortion in the country.
In just five weeks time, this detrimental and unconscionable bill may be passed by our Statehouse. In this moment of crisis, we need all pro-life Americans, especially Californians, to make their voices heard. This fight is not over. We defeated SB 24’s near-identical predecessor, SB 320, last year precisely because the bill’s extremism is a liability for Democrats in many parts of the state.
We have a comprehensive plan to identify and lobby the lawmakers representing the districts who are most vulnerable to pro-life constituencies and backlash. (See List Below) Although the stereotype of California is that of a navy-blue state, the regional picture is more complicated. 28 of 58 California counties voted for a pro-life platform in 2018. Of the remaining 30 counties, many contain large numbers of Hispanic Catholics who are Pro-Life Democrats.
Our former pro-choice Governor Jerry Brown understood this well, as he explained in this 2017 interview. California has a long history of representation of a pro-life platform in many rural and purple parts of the state. Orange County, Ventura County, and the suburbs of San Diego are purple areas avoiding extremism. Rural counties such as Tulare, Kern, and San Bernardino counties are rural areas home to more religious pro-lifers. And the Central Valley counties of Fresno, Madera, Merced, and San Joaquin are home to large numbers of pro-life Democrats. We’ve included a comprehensive list of Assembly Members representing these areas. Your continued phone calls, letters, and direct lobbying of these members will be crucial.
Do not be discouraged. Your efforts are not in vain. Over the last two years, our aggressive opposition has resulted in significant amendments being made to the bill, plus the former pro-choice Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 24’s predecessor, citing his own pro-life opponents’ reasoning. Recent pro-life victories such as the NIFLA v Becerra Supreme Court decision reaffirmed the conscience rights of pro-lifers, and it is fresh in the memory of lawmakers.
Many reasonable lawmakers may wish to avoid a protracted legal battle with yet another likely pro-life victory on appeal to the Supreme Court. These legislators are also aware that public funding of abortion is generally unpopular; even among the 15 states that offer Medicaid funds for abortion, only 5 do so voluntarily. The remaining 10, including California, do so under court order. Public funding of abortion was never the popular will of California. We shouldn’t let our leaders act as if it was. Highlighting these points during your calls, letters, and visits will increase pressure on members in these more moderate districts.
Our action or inaction during the next five weeks will likely have consequences far beyond this individual bill. A defeat on our part could set a dangerous precedent which could be expanded by the courts or legislatures in the other 14 States that allow Medicaid funding for abortion. A loss would also strike a severe blow to conscience rights an incentivize further legislation targeting pro-life medical providers, speakers, sidewalk counselors, and clergy.
Just last month, tens of thousands of Californians of all faiths and none stood in defense of their religious freedom and conscience rights. Their efforts defeated SB 360 and showed what a united and determined resistance can achieve. I have great faith that you, the myriad of pro-life Americans and Californians committed to halting this cultural shift, will repeat their success and help to bring about a more life-affirming culture. Good luck and thank you for patterning with us in this work – we couldn’t do it without you.
List of Vulnerable Legislators
· The Senate voted along party lines. Here are the 5 Assembly members that voted no or abstained.
- Tim Grayson (D)- Concord- Abstained
- Tom Daly (D)- Orange County- Abstained
- Ken Cooley (D)- Sacramento- Abstained
- Sharon Quirk (D)- Orange County- No
- Rudy Salas (D)- Bakersfield- No
I also think the following areas are districts are vulnerable to public pressure in Central CA, Ventura and Orange Counties, and the Inland Empire:
- Susan Eggman (D)- Stockton (Assembly)
- Adam Gray (D)- Merced (Assembly)
- Joaquin Arambula (D)- Fresno (Assembly)
- Chris Holden (D)- Pasadena (Assembly)
- Jacquin Irwin (D)- Thousand Oaks (Assembly)
- Eloise Reyes (D)- Grand Terrace (Assembly)
- Sabrina Cervantes (D)- Riverside (Assembly)
- Jose Medina (D)-Riverside (Assembly)
- Tom Daly (D) Anaheim (Assembly)
- Cathleen Galgiani (D) Stockton (Senate)
- Melissa Hurtado (D) Sanger (Senate)
- Anna Caballero (D) Salinas (Senate)
- Richard Roth (D) Riverside (Senate
Northern California Regional Coordinator, SFLA
Need help opposing the campus abortion bill, SB 24? If you’re in Northern California, contact me, Nick Reynosa, at [email protected]. If you’re in Southern California, contact Brooke Karmie at [email protected].