Prop 1 — We can do better California

This November, you’ll be asked to decide Proposition 1, an amendment to our state’s constitution making abortion without limit a constitutional right in California. Unlike long-term current state law, which limits late-term abortions unless a doctor determines it’s medically necessary, Proposition 1 places no limits on abortion and opens the door to abortions late in pregnancy, for any reason, at any time after “viability” — even if the baby is healthy and the mother’s life is in no danger.

Our governor and the legislature are pushing and funding abortion more than ever before.  One wonders, with so much emphasis on abortion, do women still have a choice?

I ask that question because of something I’ve observed in my 38-year practice as an ObGyn physician. On countless occasions, I have experienced the pleasure of telling a woman that she is pregnant. This is usually a happy time for everyone concerned, and something I never tire of. There are times, however, when the occasion is not joyous. Some women, quite a few as a matter of fact, find themselves pregnant at a very difficult time in their lives. Some become very distressed, either because of a financial strain, or lack of a committed partner, or because of school, or because they’re already too busy raising several children. In these cases, the question of abortion can arise.

I am committed to compassionate, nonjudgmental care of my patients. With this approach, when I first realize that a woman is considering abortion, when I am talking with her at the moment of crisis, when she is tearfully coming to grips with the fact that she has a baby in her womb that she did not expect, and she is thinking about all of the reasons why she just can’t continue the pregnancy — at that moment, I always see something remarkable when I ask this simple question: “How do you feel about abortion?” Almost without exception, my patients say something like, “Oh, I never thought I’d ever consider it, but…” or “Well, I don’t really believe in it, but…” or “I didn’t think I could ever do that, but…” And then there follows some rationalization for why, in her case, she feels she might go ahead with it despite her beliefs, some reason why she has no other option.

I have come to believe that having an abortion is a very difficult thing for a woman to do. It’s hard for me to imagine what a woman must be feeling, but I know some feel abandoned and alone, and I know of at least one study showing that a significant number (64 percent) of women feel pressured to go ahead with abortion. One woman, seeing me weeks after an abortion, tearful and distressed, and taking Zoloft to help control her depression, confided, “I really wanted to keep the baby.” It makes me ask “can’t we do more to help these women choose life if that’s what they really want?”

With this background, let’s look at what our state government has been doing. By the end of May this year, our governor had committed $125 million to out of state “abortion tourism” in California.  In February, SB 1142 established an Abortion Practical Support Fund. In March, our governor signed into law SB 245 eliminating insurance copays for abortions. In December of 2021, the California Future of Abortion Council was formed, consisting of abortion industry advocates who have made about 45 recommendations to the legislature, prompting additional bills to promote abortion. Here is a list compiled in May by Joshua Arnold of the Family Research Council:

  • AB 1666 prohibits California from cooperating with civil laws regarding abortion in other states.
  • AB 1918 sponsors scholarships for abortion training.
  • AB 1940 provides grants for abortion services in K-12 schools.
  • AB 2091 prohibits release of medical information related to violation of another state’s abortion law.
  • AB 2134 requires insurance plans excluding abortion coverage to provide written notice.
  • AB 2586 targets pro-life pregnancy centers as “fake clinics.”
  • AB 2790 removes reporting requirement where doctors suspect abuse is taking place.

California has created a slippery slope for women considering abortion. We are “greasing the skids,” so to speak, so that the abortion option is acquired more readily. But how about helping women who choose to continue their pregnancy? Obviously, lots of women want to. What about helping them with that choice?

To be fair, California offers the Comprehensive Perinatal Care Program for all Medi-Cal eligible patients, covering obstetrical care and enhanced services in nutrition, psychosocial, and health education through pregnancy and up to 60 days postpartum. It’s a good program, but California has significant problems with homelessness, transportation to healthcare clinics, and shortages of healthcare providers (doctors, social workers, mental health professionals) in rural areas. In addition, many working moms struggle with availability of childcare and inadequate accommodations in the workplace while breastfeeding. Clearly, there are better places for California to invest its resources to help women and children.

Wouldn’t you like to see California have a reputation for how well we take care of our moms and babies? Wouldn’t that be better than the reputation we’re headed for as the “abortion sanctuary?”

Help women have a choice — for life. Let’s vote no on Proposition 1.