Extreme Abortion Proposition Targets California Voters With Misinformation Campaign

COMMENTARY: Polling numbers reveal that the more voters are educated on what the amendment does, the more likely they are to oppose it.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta addresses the crowd  as pro-abortion protesters gather in large numbers in front of the federal building to defend abortion rights in San Francisco on May 3, 2022.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta addresses the crowd as pro-abortion protesters gather in large numbers in front of the federal building to defend abortion rights in San Francisco on May 3, 2022. (photo: Nick Otto / AFP/Getty)

This Election Day, California voters will face the abortion issue at the top of their ballot in the form of Proposition 1. Prop. 1 will allow for late-term abortions through all nine months of pregnancy, even if both mother and child are perfectly healthy. This extreme constitutional amendment would go far beyond California’s current abortion law by removing any and all abortion restrictions. However, the Prop. 1 campaign and its political supporters are doing everything they can to ensure California voters do not know this by conducting a widespread misinformation campaign. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a prominent Prop. 1 supporter, held a news conference days ago with the sole purpose of claiming that the ballot proposition would not allow for late-term abortions. It’s a last-minute attempt for the Proposition 1 campaign to mislead voters, as they know support for the amendment is slipping away. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll reveals that support has dropped seven points in just over a month. Simultaneously, the survey shows that now 81% of California voters oppose abortion through all nine months. These numbers reveal that the more voters are educated on what Proposition 1 does, the more likely they are to oppose it.

The inconvenient truth Bonta and other Prop. 1 politicians are trying to hide, however, is that Proposition 1 was designed precisely to allow for late-term abortions. Arguments against Proposition 1 included in the statewide “Voter Information Guide” state that Prop. 1 “will allow unrestricted late-term abortions costing taxpayers millions” and “will allow late-term abortions at taxpayer expense without limitation for any reason at any time up to the moment of birth — even with the mother’s life is not in danger, even when the healthy baby could survive outside the womb.”

Elected officials endorsing Prop. 1, including Bonta, are duty-bound to bring legal challenges against any untruthful, misleading or legally disputable language submitted to the “Voter Information Guide.” But Bonta and other Prop. 1 politicians never brought a legal challenge against the language included in the guide because Prop. 1 would, in fact, allow unrestricted late-term abortions. Proposition 1 proponents with the “Yes on Prop 1” campaign also failed to file a legal challenge, as reported by The Orange County Register's Susan Shelley.

It’s no accident that Prop. 1 would allow for late-term abortions. Dr. Pratima Gupta, one of the authors of Prop. 1, openly admitted that viability language was left out of it “on purpose.” To be clear, no “viability” restriction means abortions would be permitted even if a baby is “viable,” capable of living on his or her own outside the mother’s womb. On the California House floor, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, had no answer on whether Proposition 1 would change the availability of abortions past fetal viability and opted to leave this question unanswered, despite promising as answer during official legislative proceedings. 

It is abundantly clear that when Prop. 1 politicians are held legally accountable, they have repeatedly refused to comment on the viability question. Or, in the case of Gupta, they have outright admitted that Proposition 1 intentionally removes the viability standard. In forums where they are not held legally accountable, misleading or completely false talking points are presented as assurances that Prop. 1 would not expand late-term abortions in the state. 

It is obvious the Golden State is one of the most abortion-friendly states in the United States. And while most Californians — like most Americans — still want some form of legalized abortion, they are very much against late-term abortion. But the abortion lobby in California and the “Yes on Prop. 1” campaign have latched onto the post-Dobbs hysteria and misinformation to confuse voters about what’s at stake with Proposition 1. They are misleading Californians that abortion will go away without Proposition 1. 

State Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, who introduced Prop. 1, recently said that Prop. 1 is “essential” to “protect the rights of all people to make choices about their bodies.” Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, one of the prominent Prop. 1 supporters, claims, “Control of our bodies, our lives, our futures is on the ballot in November.” And even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recently campaigned for Prop. 1 in San Francisco, tweeted that “[t]he reality is women are now one election away from losing our rights…#YesOnProp1.”

This is blatant fearmongering, because if Prop. 1 does not pass, California’s abortion laws will remain unchanged. California already has one of the most permissive abortion laws in the U.S., allowing for abortions until around 24 weeks, when an unborn baby can live on his or her own outside the mother’s womb. State law also includes “necessary to protect the life or health of the woman” exceptions. With so few Californians supporting an expansion of late-term abortion — which is precisely what Prop. 1 would do — the abortion lobby and Prop. 1 advocates have resorted to scaring voters into supporting this amendment through false claims that the existing abortion law would be impacted if Prop. 1 is defeated. They are actually trying to convince voters that abortion would go away in California, of all places. But if and when Prop. 1 is defeated, there is absolutely no impact to California’s abortion law. Prop 1. politicians know that misleading the public is their only path to victory.

Another way we’re seeing Prop. 1 politicians misinform voters is by straight-up denying legal reality. It’s a basic legal concept that constitutional amendments override state law; that is their purpose. When you read the proposition’s language, you will see it is different than California’s existing abortion law. As I’ve mentioned, current law allows abortion “prior to viability” or “when necessary to protect the life of the woman.” Proposition 1 contains no such limits or language, allowing abortion at any time, for any reason — or no reason at all. 

But Prop. 1 politicians like Bonta and their supporters are misleading voters that California’s current restrictions will still be recognized if Prop. 1 passes. That is simply not how constitutional amendments work, but the pro-Prop. 1 campaign won’t tell you that. Unfortunately, and yet not surprisingly, much of the California media is playing straight into that narrative, as well. 

Proposition 1 would be devastating to California. 

We’ve seen Gov. Gavin Newsom place billboards in seven states — scandalously citing Scripture — to invite out-of-state women into the “abortion sanctuary” state of California. The California Legislature has already estimated it will cost an additional $100 million in the next five years alone just to cover the costs of women traveling from out of state for abortions: to pay for their airfare, lodging, Ubers, childcare and so forth. If you open the door even wider, by allowing for late-term abortions, the costs will only increase for California — both financially and physically, as late-term abortions present a unique set of dangers and risks for women, alongside the deaths of their unborn children.

We know Californians do not support late-term abortion. We know Proposition 1 would bring late-term abortion to California. The Prop. 1 campaign was built on a foundation of deceit because the proponents know if Californians actually knew what they were voting for, they would immediately reject it. It is critical Californians are informed with the truth, amid the chaos of Prop. 1’s misinformation.


Catherine Hadro is the spokeswoman and media relations director for California’s “No on Proposition 1” campaign.