A California ballot measure would make abortion a first-degree murder crime

Criminalizing birth control is a long shot, but the normalization of anti-abortion rhetoric has become a real issue

By Leigh C. Anderson
September 11, 2017 7:54PM (UTC)
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(AP/Dylan Lovan)

Anti-abortion activists in California have been given the green light to collect signatures for a 2018 ballot that would equate abortion with first degree murder. 

The ballot measure — unlikely to pass in California — may interpret abortion vastly enough to include certain types of birth control, medical research and in vitro fertilization, according to a report by The Sacramento Bee.


The proposal — spearheaded by a man who said on his Facebook page that abortion is the "American Holocaust" and that “every day is 9-11 for the preborn" — would need more than 585,000 registered voter signatures in order to appear on the ballot. Though that may seem like a lot in deep-blue California, it may not be that too hard to do, considering how referendum-happy the state tends to be. Still, the odds that this would ever become law in California seem slim.

Even if the bill does pass,  it “would undoubtedly be challenged on constitutional grounds because it eliminates a woman’s constitutional privacy right to end a pregnancy,” The Sacramento Bee noted.

Nevertheless, the fact that this bill has even the slimmest opportunity in California could empower anti-choice activists in more conservative states to fight for additional anti-abortion legislation — and there, they may actually have a real chance at passing them.


The California measure follows a string of anti-choice campaigns in the United States this past year. In Texas, a bill was shot down that would have required funerals for aborted or miscarried fetuses. The state also shut down several Texas abortion clinics. And in Alabama, two lawyers denounced a pro-choice court ruling, claiming that a 12-year-old rape victim wasn't mature enough to have an abortion.

Leigh C. Anderson

Leigh C. Anderson is an editorial intern at Salon.

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Abortion Abortion Access Anti-abortion Anti-abortion Activism California