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‘Extreme, expensive, and unnecessary’ – Diverse coalition forms to oppose Calif. Prop 1

Catherine Hadro speaks at a No on Prop. 1 news conference.

It’s not every day that Republicans for Choice and Democrats for Life work together to oppose a ballot initiative.

But that’s exactly what’s happening in California. The No on Proposition 1 campaign has attracted support from diverse groups, all objecting to a ballot measure that would enshrine abortion until the moment of birth in the state constitution, and fund abortion with taxpayer dollars.

Catherine Hadro is the spokesperson and media relations director for California's No on Proposition 1 campaign. She was the founding host of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly and serves on the board of The Obria Group, a network of holistic women's healthcare clinics.

Charles Camosy spoke with Hadro this week about the details of Proposition 1, the polling surrounding the measure, and the coalition that has arisen to oppose it.

Proposition 1 can't be as bad as it seems, right? Please tell me it isn't this bad.

It’s that bad. It’s worse than “that bad.” Proposition 1 means late-term abortion up until the moment of birth, even if both mother and baby are perfectly healthy. And it would all be paid for by California tax dollars. This means California abortion laws would be on par with those of China and North Korea, instead of nations like France and the Netherlands.

Proponents of Proposition 1 claim it “simply” enshrines California’s existing abortion law into the state constitution - and yet, that’s not what it says at all. The language is recklessly ambiguous. It would lead to confusion in the health care system and an onslaught of lawsuits in the legal system.

And while the language is ambiguous, the intentions of it are clear. Just recently, Dr. Pratima Gupta - one of the doctors involved in the drafting of the Proposition 1 language - openly admitted in an interview that proponents left out viability language “on purpose.” This is in stark contrast to California’s existing law, which allows abortion prior to viability.

The proposition’s brief-yet-broad language removes doctors from the decision-making process in post-viability abortions. And if enshrined into the state constitution, it would seriously restrict Californians’ ability to regulate abortion at any point moving forward. Practically speaking, Proposition 1 would take away residents’ rights to change abortion laws moving forward.

There’s another component to all of this that is not getting nearly enough attention, and one I think would be of particular interest to you as someone who regularly reports on the medically vulnerable. Proposition 1 would lead to greater disparity in health care in California.

Here’s what I mean - we know California will face a statewide shortfall of physicians within the next 10 years. Several studies show the state could be down as many as 10,000 primary care clinicians - including nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Meanwhile, we are seeing Governor Newsom invite women into California for abortions -- most recently, placing billboards in seven states that scandalously cited Scripture to tout abortion.

With the expected influx of women coming into California for abortions, now abortion-until-birth, the California health care system will be overburdened. There will be some areas - the Central Valley, Central Coast, and Southern Border region - that will be hit especially hard. So too will remote rural and inner-city residents, impacting communities of color and some of our most medically vulnerable.

Proposition 1 truly is extreme, expensive, and unnecessary. It’s bad.

This seems so wildly extreme, even for a state like California. Does it really have a chance of passing?

It is extreme - and while the polls gaining the most media traction are ones showing Proposition 1 as victorious, there’s another one I’ve been focusing on. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll reveals that only 13% of likely California voters support what Proposition 1 means: late-term abortion.

That is incredibly insightful. 13% is a small minority of Californians, which is why we’re encouraging residents to read through the proposition language themselves and see how there are no abortion restrictions whatsoever. We know Californians don’t want Proposition 1. They don’t support late-term abortion, let alone paying for late-term abortion - especially for non-residents.

We remain motivated and optimistic based on what we’re seeing in our grassroots efforts. When we speak with people one-on-one, we are seeing people change their minds on Proposition 1 - as they realize what it actually is compared to the media’s portrayal. We’ve also been seeing a growing number of smaller, grassroots donations pour in. More and more Californians are becoming aware of what’s at stake in the state this November 8th.

I have been disappointed by the overall lack of journalistic integrity on this proposition. Most coverage has inaccurately portrayed the No on Proposition 1 stance and there are little to no efforts to reach us for comment in related stories. And yet, we know we’re reaching more and more people with our message ahead of Election Day.

Well, that's disconcerting. Under normal circumstances I'd expect such a proposal to get widespread backlash from across the political spectrum. But maybe our post-Dobbs moment has scrambled what we'd normally expect in the abortion debate?

“Scrambled” is the right word, because it feels like absolute chaos when it comes to abortion information in the media right now. This post-Dobbs landscape has stirred up all sorts of confusion and, frankly, abortion proponents thrive in that. California is a perfect example, as Prop. 1 politicians are stirring up a false emergency on abortion.

Everyone knows abortion is and will remain legal in the state of California - yet Prop. 1 politicians are acting as if abortion is going away and that’s why voters need to enshrine this extreme proposition into the state constitution. They are misleading voters and taking advantage of this post-Dobbs confusion.

We know that the abortion battle is now at the state level - each and every state will look different. The truth is, most Californians support abortion to some extent. But this proposition goes further than the state’s existing law and goes beyond what Californians support.

The fact that Proposition 1 is so extreme has actually brought unlikely allies together. Just last week, on the steps of the California state capitol, we held a No on Prop. 1 news conference to showcase our diverse coalition. Our coalition is this rare example of pro-lifers and pro-choicers coming together to say that Proposition 1 goes too far.

OK, now that's interesting. Can you say more about the views of those who identify as pro-choice and why they have joined this group?

Yes - our No on Prop. 1 Coalition is more than 500 members strong who come from various religious, ethnic, and political backgrounds. At our Sacramento news conference last week, we welcomed Bishop Jaime Soto, who leads the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. We also welcomed speakers who were Atheist, Evangelical, Muslim, and beyond.

Regarding the pro-choice voices, we heard from Tak Allen, president of the International Faith Based Coalition, who describes herself as “strongly pro-choice.” As a pregnant Black woman, she spoke at length about the disproportionate maternal mortality rates that Black women face and how Proposition 1 threatens to only increase health care disparities.

We heard from Ann Stone, founder of Republicans for Choice, who reiterated Proposition 1 goes beyond Roe v. Wade and goes too far by permitting post-viability abortions.

Another powerful speaker was a young woman named Mashal Ayobi who represented the Tarbiya Institute, an Islamic organization. In her remarks, she shared she does support abortion, but is against Proposition 1 because a child’s viability is not at all being taken into consideration.

One member of our coalition who could not be present at the news conference, but has been vocal against Prop. 1, is former U.S. Representative Tom Campbell. He has a 100% rating from the pro-choice California Abortion Rights Action League and he too has been calling out the dangers of excluding viability restrictions.

These are just some examples of pro-choice voices who have joined our coalition. It’s not too often you see Republicans for Choice and Democrats for Life coming together - but that’s exactly what we showcased on the steps of the state capitol. While our diverse coalition may not see eye-to-eye on everything, we all agree that Proposition 1 is too extreme.

What a wonderfully diverse coalition of folks. It is a microcosm, it seems to me, of the kinds of coalitions we need to put together to move the needle on abortion in this country, especially in states like California and New York where there is a hardened pro-choice majority.

Absolutely. I think this post-Dobbs landscape will force the pro-life movement to carefully examine how each state differs and each requires a unique response to its individual makeup. I keep going back to how I believe we’re called to imitate Saint Paul in a special way right now: “I have become all things to all, to save at least some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Where are people in New York right now? How can we reach them? What about California? The long-road ahead will require pro-life leaders to prudently assess state-by-state what kind of legislation and approach will have the greatest amount of political success and save the most lives. We need to meet people where they are at.

In California, the No on Proposition 1 Coalition has come together organically, the fruit of grassroots efforts and speaking with people one-on-one. The diversity of our coalition is just so 100% California. It’s beautiful to see.

And I have observed how when you bring unlikely allies together - when you bring all these people together who typically disagree, but can agree on one important thing - it perplexes people in the best way possible and hopefully forces them to re-examine their beliefs on Proposition 1. We live in this bifurcated political landscape: Democrats, Republican, red, blue. Our coalition breaks through that in a refreshing, powerful way - forcing people outside their own echo chambers and pre-made judgements.

There are people who have historically voted in support of abortion, but can recognize that does not mean they need to now vote in favor of late-term abortion, up until the moment of birth, paid for by their tax dollars. We warmly welcome any Californian - no matter your view on abortion - to join our No on Proposition 1 Coalition.

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