“With Proposition 1, the number of abortion seekers from other states would be even higher, costing taxpayers millions more.”
California together, not in Proposition 1, On its website, August 16, 2022
California Together, a campaign led by religious and anti-abortion groups, hopes to persuade voters to reject a ballot measure that would cement abortion rights in the state constitution. The group is warning that taxpayers will be on the hook for the influx of abortion seekers from out of state.
Proposition 1 was put on the ballot by the Democratic-controlled Legislature in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn it Roe v. Wade. If passed, it would protect a person’s “fundamental right to choose an abortion” along with the right to birth control.
California Together’s website states: “With Proposition 1, the number of abortion seekers from other states will be greater, costing taxpayers millions more.”
The campaign raised similar cost concerns in a voter information guide that will be mailed out to every registered voter before the Nov. 8 election. One prominent argument is that Proposition 1 would make California a “sanctuary state” for abortion, including late-term pregnancies — and would be a drain on tax dollars.
We decided to take a closer look at those eye-catching statements to see how well they hold up when broken down.
We reached out to California Together to find out the basis of its arguments against the measure. The campaign cited an analysis by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, which previously speculated Ro It was ruled that the number of women ages 15 to 49 whose nearest abortion provider would be in California would increase by 3,000% in response to the state’s abortion ban. Guttmacher’s analysis states that most out-of-state patients in California will likely come from Arizona because it is within driving distance.
California Together does not specify a specific cost to taxpayers for the measure. Rather, it is an indication of how much more the state could spend if the proposed amendment passes. The state has already allocated tens of millions of dollars to support abortion and reproductive health services.
Sources indicate that people are already coming to the state for abortion services.
Jessica Pinckney, executive director of Oakland-based Access Reproductive Justice, which provides financial and emotional support to people who have had abortions in California, said the organization had experienced an increase in out-of-state calls even before the high court’s ruling in June. Pinckney expects to handle more cases as more states restrict abortion — regardless of the outcome of Proposition 1.
It will cost taxpayers millions of rupees?
In its 2022-23 fiscal year budget, California committed more than $200 million to expand reproductive health care services, including $20 million in a fund to cover travel costs for abortion seekers, regardless of where they live in the state. In 2023, the fund will award grants to nonprofits that help women with transportation and lodging.
However, none of those costs are associated with Proposition 1, said Carolyn Chu, chief deputy legislative analyst for the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. It’s already budgeted and will be done next year regardless of what happens with the ballot measure.
Ultimately, the Legislative Analyst’s Office finds “no direct fiscal impact” if Proposition 1 passes because Californians already have abortion protections. And people traveling from out of state don’t qualify for state-subsidized health programs, such as Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, Chu added in an interview. “If people travel to California for services, including abortion, that doesn’t mean they’re eligible for Medi-Cal,” he said.
Still, Proposition 1 opponents see the cost argument playing out the other way.
Richard Temple, campaign strategist for California Together, said a “no” vote would send lawmakers mandates to cut off support funding. “Defeat Prop. 1, and you’re sending a loud signal to the Legislature and the governor that you don’t want to pay for these kinds of expenses for people coming from out of state,” Temple said.
What about an influx of abortion seekers?
A key element of California Together’s argument is based on the idea that California will become a sanctuary state for abortionists. Opponents contend that Proposition 1 opens the door to a new legal interpretation of state reproductive privacy laws. Currently, this law allows abortion up to the point of viability, usually around or after the 24th week of pregnancy, to preserve the patient’s life or health.
One argument made in the voter guide against the constitutional amendment is that it would allow all late-term abortions “even when the mother’s life is not in danger, even when a healthy baby can survive outside the womb.”
Because the proposal states that the state cannot interfere with abortion rights, opponents argue that the current law would become unconstitutional by restricting most abortions after effective date. They claim that without the restrictions, California would attract thousands, perhaps millions, of women in late pregnancy.
Statistically, this is unlikely. States don’t report abortion statistics, but only 1% of abortions nationwide occur at 21 weeks or later, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Whether there will be a new interpretation if Proposition 1 passes is up for debate.
UCLA law professor Carrie Franklin, who specializes in reproductive rights, said that Proposition 1 establishing a general right to abortion does not mean that all abortions will become legal. Constitutional language is always broad, and laws and regulations can add limitations to those rights. For example, he said, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution gives the right to bear arms, but laws and regulations restrict children from buying guns.
“The amendment does not displace any of that law,” Franklin said.
But the current law was written and interpreted under California’s current constitution, which does not have an express right to abortion, said Tom Campbell, a former legislator who teaches law at Chapman University. If Proposition 1 passes, the courts may interpret it differently. “Any state-imposed restrictions on abortion need to be reconsidered,” Campbell said.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office concluded that “it is unclear whether a court could construe the proposal to expand reproductive rights beyond existing law.”
California voters will soon have their say.
The vote showed overwhelming support for the constitutional amendment. An August poll by the Berkeley IGS Poll found 71% of voters would vote “yes” on Proposition 1. A September survey by the Public Policy Institute of California gave 69% support
California Together warns voters: “With Proposition 1, the number of abortion seekers from other states will increase, costing taxpayers millions more.”
Proposition 1 would protect a person’s “fundamental right to choose to have an abortion.”
While this may drive more people to California for abortion services, it’s already happening, even before voters decide on the measure.
Additionally, Proposition 1 does not allocate any new costs. So regardless of whether the constitutional amendment is adopted a $20 million state fund will exist to cover travel expenses for abortion candidates. Bottom line: A nonpartisan analyst found that there would be no direct financial impact to the state, and that out-of-state residents would not qualify for state-subsidized health programs.
It is speculative that Proposition 1 would expand the currently permitted abortion rights or allocate more funds to out-of-state residents.
Because the statement contains some truth but ignores critical information to give a different impression, we rate the statement mostly false.
California Together, No on Proposition 1, “Questions and Answers: What You Should Know About Prop 1,” accessed August 22, 2022
Office of the Legislative Analyst, Analysis of Proposition 1, accessed August 22, 2022
Email interview with Kelly Reed, director of client services at McNally Temple Associates, August 24, 2022
Phone interview with Carolyn Chu, Principal Deputy Legislative Analyst, Office of the Legislative Analyst, September 12, 2022
CalMatters, “California Fails to Collect Basic Abortion Data — Even as It Invites an Out-of-State Flow,” June 27, 2022
California Health Facilities Review Program, “Analysis of California Senate Bill 245 Abortion Services: Cost Sharing,” accessed September 12, 2022
SB 1142, Abortion Services, accessed September 12, 2022
Phone interview with California campaign strategist Richard Temple, September 12, 2022
Phone interview with Carrie Franklin, professor of law at UCLA School of Law, September 13, 2022
Phone interview with Luke Coushamaro, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of the Legal Analyst, September 13, 2022
Remarks by Governor Gavin Newsom, Sacramento, California, June 27, 2022
Public Policy Institute of California, “PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government,” accessed September 13, 2022
California State Budget, Health and Human Services Summary Document, accessed September 14, 2022
Phone interview with Jessica Pinckney, Executive Director of Access Reproductive Justice, September 15, 2022
Phone interview with Tom Campbell, Chapman University Law Professor, September 15, 2022
SB 1301, Reproductive Privacy Act, accessed September 19, 2022
Email interview with HD Palmer, Deputy Director of External Affairs, California Department of Finance, September 20, 2022
This story was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, the editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.