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Back to the Future:

Countering Abortion in California


  Bioethics in Law & Culture                                                                                                                             Winter  2022       vol. 5  issue  1

Susan S. Arnall, Esq.

Director of Outreach and Engagement

Right to Life League

This year will be the most important year in the pro-life movement since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. By June of 2022, the Court may overturn Roe when it rules on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Thanks to the Texas Heartbeat Bill, Texas is now saving more babies than ever before. And more than twenty other states already have enacted or will be enacting laws restricting the killing of babies in the womb when Roe falls. But none of that will permanently stop the killing of babies in the womb.


Although overturning Roe v. Wade will win a long-fought national battle, it will not end the war against abortion. California, along with several other staunchly pro-choice states, will become ground zero in the war to protect the unborn. 


Governor Gavin Newsome has proclaimed California a “sanctuary state” for abortion.  Planned Parenthood is already leading a cabal of more than forty local abortion providers to demand California taxpayers transport women living in other states to California to get “free” abortions at state expense. Yes, when Roe v. Wade falls, California will become a nationwide abortion hub to circumvent federal and state restrictions on abortion as an end run around both pro-life legislation as well as the Hyde Amendment.


The battle for life is coming full circle. The national pro-life battle began, and ended, in Texas. Two Dallas attorneys challenged Texas’ restrictions on abortions in 1973, filing suit in a Dallas courtroom on behalf of McCorvey under the pseudonym, “Jane Roe.”[1] In 2021, Texas’ Heartbeat Bill ended abortion on demand in the state.


The state level battle against abortion, and the entire pro-life movement, began much earlier in California in 1967, six years before Roe v. Wade, with the passage of the Beilenson Bill.  It is here, in California, that the final battle for life will be won through a state-wide alliance connecting state legislators, health care providers, faith-based organizations, pro-life non-profits, pro-life medical clinics, counseling centers, and maternity homes to offer true support and life-sustaining options to abortion-minded women.


Legalized Abortion and the Pro-life Movement Began in California


In 1967, long before Roe v. Wade extended legalized abortion nationwide, California Democratic State Senator Anthony Beilenson advanced one of the first therapeutic abortion bills in the country.* His bill sought to legalize abortion when a woman’s mental or physical health was at risk or if pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. The vast majority of Americans did not understand what abortion was. This was a time before ultrasound was widely available, before a woman could see her unborn baby in the womb, before viability was a legal concept. 


Several California GOP legislators had secured then Governor Ronald Reagan’s promise to sign the bill if passed. Reagan did not expect the bill to pass the California legislature.


Prior to its passage, the founders of the Right to Life League – a group of doctors, lawyers, and concerned citizens from southern California – organized a meeting with Reagan to explain the reality of abortion. This marked the beginning of the pro-life movement in America.


Although he had already agreed to sign the Beilenson bill because he did not understand the issue at the time, Reagan quickly regretted signing the bill into law on June 15, 1967[2] and never signed another piece of abortion legislation again. But the damage was done.


Legal Background


The United States Supreme Court is now considering the constitutionality of Mississippi’s pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions in the matter of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The state law bans abortions after the first fifteen weeks of pregnancy when the developing baby can feel pain.[3]


The Dobbs case presents the high court with an opportunity to reverse the raw judicial activism exercised in the landmark 1973 case of Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion. The Roe court relied on the “penumbras and emanations” from the Bill of Rights, the Due Process Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment to infer a constitutional right to privacy supporting a fundamental individual “right” to abortion. Justices balanced individual privacy against government interest in protecting health and life by tying state restrictions to a legal framework that paralleled the trimesters of pregnancy.[4]


The 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey replaced Roe’s trimester framework with the concept of fetal “viability,” adopted an  “undue burden” test to evaluate legal barriers to abortion before viability.[5]  Dobbs asks whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.[6]


Fetal viability is in flux. Scientific advancement now provides a 3D window into the womb. Through ultrasound technology, mothers can view their unborn children moving, sucking their thumbs, even hiccupping. Since 1963, doctors have been performing life-saving surgeries in utero on unborn babies,[7] and babies as young as twenty-two weeks’ gestational age “can now survive.”[8]


As Justice Alito pointed out during oral argument in Dobbs, the fluid nature of viability does not change the interests at stake because “the fetus has an interest in having a life and that doesn’t change, does it, from the point before viability to the point after viability?”[9]

Post Roe v. Wade – Nothing Changes in California


If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as many hope, the issue of abortion “rights” will return once more to the individual states. Many states have already passed abortion “trigger laws,”[10] laws that will go into effect immediately to restrict abortion once Roe v. Wade falls. Overnight, abortion providers will effectively be out of business in many states.[11]


Indeed, the number and rate of abortions in the United States both continue to decline.[12] The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute[13] reports that “the abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44) fell by 20%, from 16.9 in 2011 to 13.5 in 2017.”[14]


Founded by admittedly racist[15] eugenicist Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood is not your friendly neighborhood fertility clinic; it is an international population control behemoth reaping massive profits from abortion services:


The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is one of 134 member associations of the gigantic International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), which works in 142 nations on every continent. It joins two other multinational non-governmental organizations that do the most damage to faith, life and family in the world — the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the architect and supporter of the Chinese forced abortion program, and the Population Council, founded and supported by eugenicists, now serving as the guiding hand behind population suppression efforts all over the world.…[16]


The federal Government Accounting Office (“GAO”) recently reported pro-abortion groups Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), Marie Stopes International (MSI), and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) received $1.8 billion in taxpayer dollars from fiscal years 2016 through 2018.[17]

Planned Parenthood’s “core mission,” according to its former President of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen, is “providing protecting and expanding access to abortion…..It is a fundamental human right….”[18]


According to its own 2019 – 2020 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood performs about 40% of all abortions in the United States, admitting to committing 354,871 abortions in 2020 alone, in addition to the 584,003 “emergency contraception” kits it distributed that year.[19]


Sensing the coming national victory for life, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers began scrambling to redesign their business models. In December of 2021, Planned Parenthood and more than forty other abortion providers drafted the California Future of Abortion Council report, a series of legislation policy recommendations designed to turn California into an abortion center for the entire nation.[20]


California: A “Sanctuary” for Nationally Centralized Abortion


Planned Parenthood’s California Future of Abortion Council’s (“Abortion Council”) report[21] is a comprehensive “list of legislative, executive, and administrative actions for state policymakers to implement in order to meet the needs of people seeking abortions.” It contains 45 specific legislative policy recommendations designed to funnel state money into their abortion business model. They plan to lobby California legislators to leverage taxpayers’ dollars to kill babies.


This state-based funding strategy evades the Hyde Amendment’s prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortion through Medicaid because the Hyde Amendment does not limit a state’s ability to use its own funds to cover abortion.[22] President Biden’s recent $1.9  trillion dollar “blue state bailout” coronavirus bill[23] transferred billions of federal dollars to state coffers, swelling California’s current budget surplus to $31 billion dollars, effectively laundering the federal money for abortion through state spending.

The Abortion Council’s plan reveals that 46,000 women already travel to California for abortions every year.[24]  It anticipates that, if Roe v Wade is overturned, up to 1.4 million women will travel to California to obtain an abortion each year, representing an almost 3,000% percentage increase in women of reproductive age (15-49) coming from other states.[25]

To further incentivizing women to travel into California for abortions, the Abortion Council urges California to increase its “investment in [a]bortion funds” through both direct practical support and through developing infrastructure to “support” women seeking abortions in California.

The scope of the Abortion Council’s wish list[26] is staggering:


  • California should pay for 1.4 million abortions for out-of-state residents: in anticipation of the 2923% increase in the number of “women who may drive to California for abortion care.”[27]

  • Taxpayers should also pay for “practical support” costs associated with abortion like “gas, lodging, transportation, child-care, doula support, food, lost wages, etc.”[28]

  • Taxpayers should pay to create a massive, centralized abortion access landing internet page to create “one point of entry to connect to the nearest abortion provider” provide one point of communication about abortion services, obtain coverage or financial support for their appointment, and get practical assistance and resources for logistical and economic needs…”[29]

  • State funding specifically to “staff abortion fund organizations and providers who offer practical support,” including transportation services throughout the state.[30]

  • Force private insurance companies to fully fund abortion, absorbing even the cost of copays and deductibles, making abortions 100% “free” for everyone.[31]

  • Make late-term abortions easier by “address existing barriers to abortion care later in pregnancy.”[32]

  • Force faith-based hospitals to provide contraception, abortions and sex change operations, and puberty blockers, regardless of religious tenets to the contrary.[33]

  • Shield abortionists and assistants from all legal liability from do-it-yourself abortions.[34]

  • Eliminate legal consequences for women who harm their unborn children with illicit drugs.[35]

  • Prosecute insurance companies to keep minor’s abortions secret from parents.[36]

  • Persecute and silence pro-life pregnancy centers for distributing “misleading information.”[37]

  • Use governmental agency to gather personal data about students’ sex lives to “improve student academic performance” and “overall health and wellness.” [38]


The bad news is that, given the political backdrop in California, pro-life advocates cannot yet turn the electoral tide against pro-abortion legislators from a political viewpoint. Through its twenty-nine affiliates, Planned Parenthood spends big money on political candidates and lobbying efforts. These local affiliates spent more than $800,000 on lobbying efforts in 2020, contributing almost six million dollars to candidates,[39] 99.73% of whom were Democrats.[40]

It’s Time to End the War on the Unborn by Winning It


Pro-life proponents must embrace President Ronald Reagan’s cold war tactics[41] to end abortion in California by investing in motherhood. To save the child, we must first save the mother. The three primary reasons women in the U.S. choose abortion are fear based: the dramatic change of life, inability to afford a baby, and concerns that a baby would be an interference with education or job opportunities.[42]


We must employ President Ronald Reagan’s cold war strategy to win the battle for life by countering each of these points of fear. Indeed, Christians are called to help abortion-minded mothers conquer fear. The Bible overflows with verses encouraging Christians not to fear.[43]  Pro-life organizations provide practical, real world, fiscal solutions to support life-giving, sustaining choices to give mothers hope and reassurance of security of life with their newborns. 


To counter the Abortion Council’s investment in abortion, California must invest in motherhood with spending policies that support families. California already has the Biden blue state surplus of $31 billion dollars in its budget. It is a moral obligation to ensure that these taxpayer funds are spent to support life.

Legislative Pro-life Policies


Pro-aborts often hurl accusations that pro-life Americans are merely “pro-birth, not pro-life” to suggest that the pro-life movement does not care about the women Planned Parenthood “serves.” That is demonstrably false, yet few people know about the resources freely available to pregnant women.

Happily, a pro-life network serving mothers already exists throughout the nation. In California, non-profit, pro-life organizations, churches, religious organizations, and individuals serve hundreds of thousands of abortion-minded women and their family members by providing free health care services, free housing, educational scholarships, legal assistance and resources, direct financial support, and practical support such as diapers, wipes, food for mother and baby, along with counseling to present options other than abortion. The Right to Life League, along with its member pro-life clinics, centers and maternity homes, is part of that one body....the pro-life body.

Already in California, pro-life crisis pregnancy clinics and centers outnumber abortion clinics by 20%.[44] And that does not include the more than twenty maternity homes in California.[45] These organizations offer a wide variety of support services and resources fully available to women in crisis pregnancies, including housing, education and job training. Unlike this network of maternity homes, the abortion providers’ business model does not offer housing or job training or educational support for women seeking abortion. Their service for the mother ends with the callous disposal of the unborn baby’s body.

California’s Legislative Priorities Must Change


Pro-life advocates must work with California legislators on both sides of the aisle to 1) inform and educate them about the current resources available for women considering abortion; 2) explain what additional state support or legislation would help the existing pro-life network serve all women in need; and 3) advocate pro-life legislative policies to protect both women and unborn babies from harm. 

The Right to Life League proposes the following legislative priorities promoting the human dignity of both women and children to counter the Abortion Council’s plan to invest in abortion:

  • Fully fund life-saving healthcare for all stages of pregnancy, including well-woman prenatal care, prenatal vitamins, prenatal medical visits, OB/GYN delivery, and fertility treatments to assist women in fertility care, excluding treatments in which the destruction of embryonic children occur.

  • Fully fund the cost of childbirth in medical hospitals to support a woman’s choice for life.

  • Fund a network of maternity homes to provide free housing to pregnant women in crisis.

  • Fund child-care for pregnant women facing underemployment.

  • Fund education grants and scholarships to support economic opportunity and job training for women choosing life for their children.

  • Fund medical drug rehab programs to support pregnant women in their struggle to improve their health and the health of their unborn child.

  • Fund child-care for families. Other countries commonly cover up to 75% of child-care expenses for all families whereas the U.S. pays next to nothing and leaves child care expenses to mothers/families.[46]

  • Enact legislation declaring the self-evident truth that life begins at conception and continues until natural death.

  • Resolve that abortion – the intentional dismemberment of a living human being in the womb – is a form of torture. Enact legislation banning abortion procedures on all living fetuses as torture.

  • Mandate ultrasound and second medical opinions to confirm the life of the mother or child is in mortal danger prior to attempting any premature delivery of the baby.

  • Enact legislation requiring humane premature delivery of babies facing non-survivable gestational challenges or abnormalities. When premature delivery of a living unborn baby is medically necessary to save the life of the mother, an OB/GYN doctor must perform the delivery in a medical hospital under anesthesia to ensure the safety of the woman and the humane, pain-free delivery of the premature baby.

  • Mandate life-supporting medical treatment be provided at all premature deliveries to give the premature child a chance to survive.

  • Require all medical facilities to issue birth certificates for all babies, whether delivered at full term or prematurely delivered, to recognize the dignity of life and to properly track data on premature births.


The call to end abortion by supporting women and providing real choice to mothers is a point of agreement between people on both sides of the aisle and could be the true solution to ending abortion. The Guttmacher Institute states that the vast majority of abortions are had by women who are at or below federal poverty level.[47] The decision to end the life of her child is a decision made by a mother in crisis. The pro-life and pro-choice movements can find common ground in the belief that women deserve the resources they need to make the choice they feel is actually best.

An oft-quoted political axiom says, “as California goes, so goes the nation.” The war against abortion has come full circle. It is time for the pro-life movement to end the war on abortion by winning it with Reagan’s cold war tactics – outspend the enemy. Pro-lifers must embrace expensive legislative fiscal policies that invest in families with life-giving priorities, and so finally win the battle for life here, in California, where it began.


*Editor's Note: Colorado was the first state to legalize abortion on April 25, 1967, but California may have been the first state to introduce a bill.

[1] Placencia, Ariel. “Did you know? The Roe v. Wade Case started in Dallas,” MSN. Microsoft News, December 1, 2021.

[2] Tourek, Mary. “Governor Reagan Signs Liberal California Abortion Law – Then...” Today in Civil Liberties History, April 22, 2021.

; Roberts, Sam. “Anthony Beilenson, Congressman Who Fought for Abortion Rights, Dies at 84.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 11, 2017.

[3] Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Brief for Petitioners, submitted July 22, 2021,

[4] Connor, Bill. “Roe v. Wade Was Raw Judicial Activism, Supreme Court Should Overturn It.”, December 29, 2021.

[5] “The Embryo Project Encyclopedia.” Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) | The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. Accessed January 10, 2022.

[6] Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Brief for Petitioners, submitted July 22, 2021,

[7] “The Embryo Project Encyclopedia.” Fetal Surgery | The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. Accessed January 10, 2022.

[8] Triggle, Nick. “Babies Born at 22 Weeks 'Can Now Survive'.” BBC News. BBC, October 23, 2019.  

[9] Bond, Charlotte Pence. “Justice Alito Questions Viability Standard in Monumental Supreme Court Abortion Case.” The Daily Wire. The Daily Wire, December 1, 2021.

[10]   McCammon, Sarah. “'Trigger Laws' Are Abortion Bans Ready to Go If 'Roe v. Wade' Is Overturned.” NPR. NPR, December 6, 2021.

[11] Bilger, Micaiah, “2021 Was a Record Pro-Life Year: 19 States Passed 106 Laws Saving Babies from Abortion.”, December 23, 2021.

[12] Nash, Elizabeth, and Joerg Dreweke, “The U.S. Abortion Rate Continues to Drop: Once Again, State Abortion Restrictions Are Not the Main Driver.” Guttmacher Institute, September 18, 2019.

[13] “Guttmacher Institute was the research arm of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the largest chain of abortion clinics in the United States. It is considered the most reliable provider of accurate statistics on abortion.” Staff, HLI. “Reasons Women Get Abortions [Recently Updated].” Human Life International, August 26, 2021.

[14] Nash, Elizabeth, and Joerg Dreweke, “The U.S. Abortion Rate Continues to Drop: Once Again, State Abortion Restrictions Are Not the Main Driver.” Guttmacher Institute, September 18, 2019.

[15] Board, Post Editorial. “Planned Parenthood Finally Admits That Its Founder Was a Horrific Bigot.” New York Post. New York Post, July 22, 2020.

[16] Clowes, Brian. “Planned Parenthood Statistics, Facts, and Figures [Updated],” Human Life International, January 5, 2022, (citations in original omitted)

[17] “Planned Parenthood Received $1.6 Billion of Our Tax Dollars to Promote Its Abortion Agenda.”, January 29, 2021.

[18] Clowes, Brian. “Planned Parenthood Statistics, Facts, and Figures [Updated],” supra, n. 16.

[19] Ibid.

[20] “Future of Abortion Council Recommendations to Protest, Strengthen and Expand Abortion Care in California.” Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, Dec. 8, 2021, Accessed January 10, 2022. (hereinafter “Abortion Council Recommendations”).

[21] Ibid.

[22] “Hyde Amendment.” Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, Accessed January 10, 2022.

[23] Durschlag, Jack. “Senate GOP Blasts 'Blue State Bailout' in Biden's $1.9T Coronavirus Bill.” Fox News. FOX News Network, March 4, 2021.

[24] Ibid., 5

[25]  Abortion Council Recommendations, supra, n. 20.

[26] Burt, Greg. “CA Prepares to Pay for the Nation's Abortions Fearing Court Decision on Roe v. Wade - California Family Council.” California Family Council, January 5, 2022.

[27] Abortion Council Recommendations, supra, n. 20. The chart is reproduced from the Abortion Council’s Recommendations.

[28] Ibid., 6

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid., 7

[32] Ibid., 10

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid., 11

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid., 12

[39] “Planned Parenthood Profile: Recipients.” OpenSecrets. Accessed January 10, 2022.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Edwards, Lee. “How Ronald Reagan Won the Cold War.” The Hill, December 26, 2019.

[42] Staff, HLI. “Reasons Women Get Abortions [Recently Updated].” Human Life International, August 26, 2021. “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions.” Guttmacher Institute, Accessed January 10, 2022 at 112-13;

[43] Avant, Alyssa. “Is ‘Fear Not’ Actually Written 365 Times in the Bible?” Pray With Confidence, April 11, 2020.

[44] “State Facts about Abortion: California.” Guttmacher Institute, January 5, 2022.

[45] “Maternity Homes in California.” Accessed January 10, 2022.

[46] Miller, Claire Cain. “How Other Nations Pay for Child Care. the U.S. Is an Outlier.” Accessed January 10, 2022.

[47] Abortion rates by income. Guttmacher Institute. (2017, October 19). Retrieved January 25, 2022, from

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