What the Texas Abortion Law Means for California

Exploring the future of abortion access in the state.

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A protest at the Texas State Capitol in Austin last week. Credit…Montinique Monroe for The New York Times

The near-total ban on abortions in Texas that began last week has reverberated across the nation, with abortion rights advocates fearful of what’s to come as lawmakers in some states pledge to follow suit.

But the looming question in recent days has been what will happen to Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Some experts say the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the strict Texas legislation to go into effect suggests it may soon overturn what has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years.

But what does any of this mean for liberal California? The state is home to more than a quarter of the nation’s abortion facilities, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

I reached out to experts to find out how the Texas law and the possible repeal of Roe v. Wade could affect California, where more than 100,000 abortions are performed each year.

These were the main takeaways:

California’s laws are unlikely to change

The right to an abortion is enshrined in our State Constitution, and the new Texas law doesn’t affect that.

If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, which could happen next spring, the right to an abortion would be determined by state laws.

California and 13 other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have laws on the books that would keep abortions legal, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute.

In 22 other states, abortion would probably quickly become illegal if Roe were overturned. An America without Roe is not one without any legal abortion, but one with wildly unequal access, as my colleagues have reported.

Some people in states where it’s difficult to obtain abortions may travel to California for treatment. In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a proclamation “welcoming women to California to fully exercise their reproductive rights.”

Texans and others will come here for abortions

Last year, Planned Parenthood clinics in California treated 7,000 patients from other states, a large portion of whom were from Texas, according to Shannon Olivieri Hovis, director of NARAL Pro-Choice California.

Abortion laws in states closer to Texas may include waiting periods or other restrictions that deter women from seeking care there, said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a reproductive sciences professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

“While California is geographically pretty far from Texas it may make sense for some people to get on a plane and come here,” Grossman told me. “I think we will as providers here in California be prepared for increased demand for services.”

Nationwide, 38 percent of reproductive-age women live in a county without an abortion clinic, according to Guttmacher. In Texas, before the new law, that fraction was 43 percent.

In California, it’s 3 percent.

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Larry Elder speaking to supporters last month.Credit…Michelle Groskopf for The New York Times

What’s at stake with the recall

Over the past week, Newsom has seized upon the Texas decision to rally voters. He warned on Twitter that the ban “could be the future of CA” if the recall were successful.

The stakes feel high for many abortion supporters: “There’s no worse timing possibly imaginable than a world where California ends up with an anti-choice governor at a time when Roe v. Wade falls and abortion rights go back to the states,” Olivieri Hovis told me.

But while it’s true that Larry Elder, the leading replacement candidate, has called abortion “murder” and said Roe v. Wade was “one of the worst decisions” by the Supreme Court, anybody who replaces Newsom might not be able to do that much to roll back abortion rights.

Amending the State Constitution requires approval from more than 50 percent of voters, a margin difficult to achieve given the widespread support for abortion here. And an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature would probably oppose abortion restrictions.

A new governor may be able to enact relatively small-scale changes that would almost exclusively affect women on Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid insurance program for low-income people that funds roughly half the abortions in the state, Kaiser Health News reported.

For example, the governor could veto bills expanding access to abortion for Medi-Cal patients or set the reimbursement rates for abortion so low that no doctors could afford to perform the procedure.

For more:

How do Americans really feel about abortion? An explainer.

The Supreme Court opinion allowing the Texas law to take effect was part of something known as the “shadow docket.” What is that?

We know that Texan patients come to California for abortions. But when I was a reporter at The Los Angeles Times, I wrote about Californian doctors who go to Texas to do abortions.

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Vice President Kamala Harris joined Gov. Gavin Newsom at his rally in San Leandro.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The recall, T-minus five days

Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming recall election, scheduled for Sept. 14.

Many of the Republicans vying to replace Newsom want to roll back the state’s aggressive plans to curb its planet-warming emissions, a move that could have national implications given California’s influence as the world’s fifth-largest economy.

Read more from my colleague Brad Plumer.

I’m sure you haven’t forgotten about Newsom’s meal at the French Laundry. But The Associated Press published an article this week about how the infamous dinner coincided with a California judge’s ruling that gave Newsom’s critics extra time to get the recall on the ballot.

This is my favorite line from the article: “The dinner turned up the heat on the fledgling recall, and the extra time allowed it to reach full boil.”

On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris was in the Bay Area campaigning for Newsom. And former President Barack Obama released an ad telling voters that the outcome of election could be the difference “between protecting our kids and putting them at risk.”

My colleague Ryan Mac reports that many tech leaders are financially supporting Newsom, wary of what a replacement would bring.

And finally, The Times has answers to your frequently asked recall questions.

Tell us what else you want to know about the recall. Email your questions to CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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Andres, 14, got a shot during a coronavirus vaccination campaign at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in El Sereno last month.Credit…Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

The rest of the news

Mandatory student vaccinations: The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the nation, is poised to mandate coronavirus vaccines for students 12 and older who are attending class in person. The district’s Board of Education will meet Thursday afternoon to vote on the measure, which is expected to pass with broad support. Read more from The Times.

Recycling law: Many products with the recycling symbol aren’t actually recyclable, leading to countless tons of nonrecyclable garbage thrown in the recycling bin each year. On Wednesday, California lawmakers voted to try to change that.

Wildfires: California’s wildfire season is “far from over,” a high-ranking fire official says. Plus, weather officials are warning of dry, fire weather in large swaths of the state over the next few days, reports The Associated Press.

What you get: See $1.5 million homes in Minnesota, Virginia and California.

Amazon labor practices: The State Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would place limits on production quotas for Amazon warehouse workers.

Theranos trial: Opening statements were on Wednesday in the trial of the former Silicon Valley executive Elizabeth Holmes. Read more from The Times.

New police bill: California Democrats sent Newsom a bill on Wednesday that would make it easier to strip badges from officers with serious misconduct records, according to The Sacramento Bee.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Navy helicopter: A U.S. Navy helicopter that crashed off the coast near San Diego last week and killed five sailors had landed on an aircraft carrier and experienced vibrations before its main rotor struck the flight deck, the Navy said in a new report.

Most expensive home in America: A Los Angeles megamansion known as “The One” has gone into receivership after the owner defaulted on more than $165 million in loans and debt, NBC Los Angeles reports.

Housing shortage: More than an eighth of a million people — many of them Latino or Asian immigrants with little political power — are crammed into about 150 blocks in Koreatown in Los Angeles, according to Capital & Main.

Cashier-less Whole Foods: Amazon said on Wednesday that next year it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores, including one in Sherman Oaks, reports The Associated Press.

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Delta surge: Hospitals in the Central Valley have been increasingly overwhelmed by the latest surge of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to The Los Angeles Times.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

New museum in San Francisco: Several cities from Philadelphia to Los Angeles have museums called Institutes of Contemporary Art, which are known for being experimental and nimble. Now San Francisco is getting one of its own. Read more from The Times.

Regenerative farm: Stephanie Alexandre’s farm in Crescent City has embraced regenerative agriculture, improving soil health and biodiversity, without access to corporate support. This year her farm became the first dairy in the United States to become “certified regenerative,” Civil Eats reports.

Homeless housing slowed down: San Francisco wants to convert a hotel in Japantown into housing for more than a hundred homeless people. But opposition from locals has led city officials to slow down the project, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.

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Credit…Evan Sung for The New York Times

What we’re eating

In her newsletter this week, the Times’s California restaurant critic, Tejal Rao, writes about the nuance and power in fermented bean pastes, which she calls some of the most important and practical ingredients in her pantry.

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Sunset in Los Olivos.Credit… Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Where we’re traveling

Today’s travel tip comes from a reader, Laura Bergman, who writes:

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have family in Ventura. We don’t drive down to see them without stopping in our favorite off-the-beaten-path tiny town called Los Olivos. We enjoy wine tasting, olive tasting and browsing the cute little town.

And before you go, some good news

The Marin Independent Journal published six-word stories about friendship. Here are some of the best ones submitted by readers:

We laughed then, we laugh now. — Jesse N. Alvarez, Novato

Lovers excite. Faithful friends forever delight. — Gailya Magdalena, Lucas Valley

Two hearts, two minds, shared thoughts. — Sharon Eide, Novato

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: U2, for one (4 letters).

Steven Moity and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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