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Tipsheet

California's Pro-Abortion Ballot Initiative Embroiled in Controversy

Screenshot, @HillaryClinton

Earlier this month, I highlighted the fear-mongering campaign ad from Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) which claimed women would be arrested for having an abortion if Republicans came into power. Mia also fact-checked the ad and found it to be false. Abortion laws are extremely relaxed in California, and could become even more so, thanks to a ballot initiative known as Proposition 1, which would amend the state constitution to protect the so-called right to abortion. As it turns out, the campaign in favor of the initiative is also facing controversy, by using the image of a pro-life woman, 20-year-old Macy Petty, who has demanded it be removed.

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Last week, Hillary Clinton shared an ad in favor of the initiative, which was paid for by the California Democratic Party and directs viewers to go to YesOn1CA.com. In addition to promoting "abortion care," as well as taxpayer funding of it given that she brings up money, Clinton also falsely suggests pro-life legislation has anything to do with miscarriages, by bringing up "miscarriage management." 

Petty is featured early on in the ad, at the 0:03-0:04 mark, when the narrator claims abortion activists "got sad" about the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June with Dobbs v. Jackson which allows states to decide its own abortion laws. This includes expanding abortion, as California has already done. In reality, Petty is crying tears of joy.

Larger context makes Petty's pro-life views clear. In an Instagram post from last week, Petty noted that "In the full video, it is obvious I am crying tears of joy upon the announcement of the Dobbs decision. I am holding a 'Students for Life' banner and am with friends who are also holding pro-life signs." She goes on to say that "In your campaign video you, you portrayed me in an evil light and distorted my emotions as part of your political game.'

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Petty doubled down on her pro-life views and opposition to Proposition 1 in a statement for Townhall. "I will not allow this campaign and political elites (including Gavin Newsom and Hillary Clinton) to distort my passion for life in a way that promotes taking life from the most innocent and vulnerable among us. I am passionately pro-life. Life is a valuable gift that deserves protection. That is why I strongly oppose Proposition 1 in California," she said. 

The No on Prop. 1 Campaign also weighed in with a statement, speaking about the use of Petty's image. "It does not surprise us that the Yes campaign manipulated a woman's image in their recent advertisement because their entire campaign is built on deceit. The Prop. 1 campaign portrays Macy Petty as being on their side, even though she strongly opposes the proposition and late-term abortion."

Such a statement also further explained the initiative. "And Prop. 1 portrays the proposition as enshrining California abortion law, even though it overrides existing law and allows for extreme late-term abortion, including though a full nine months of pregnancy. We strongly reiterate Petty's demand the Yes campaign remove her image from all campaign materials and we call on the Yes campaign to stop manipulating women's images and emotions moving forward."

The ad is not the only way in which Clinton has engaged in fear-mongering and misinformation about abortion. While promoting the ballot initiative in San Francisco earlier this month, she brought up women dying, which was included in Marisa Kendall's coverage and headline for Mercury News.

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From Kendall's coverage:

“How many women have to die or be terribly mistreated in order to change these laws that are so Draconian?” asked Clinton, who became the first woman to win the presidential nomination from a major U.S. political party in 2016.

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Those types of preventable deaths are the “very sad” future that all of us fear, Clinton said. Eventually, as more women die or suffer injuries after being denied abortions, the backlash will intensify and the pendulum will swing toward abortion rights, she said.

“We’re going to have to get through this really dark period,” Clinton said, “before enough actual cases spark that kind of reaction nationally that is required.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) as well as the "Vote Yes on Prop 1 - Protect Abortion Rights CA" Twitter account retweeted Clinton sharing the article. 

When it comes to abortion activists bringing up women dying before abortion was legalized nationwide through Roe v. Wade, even The Washington Post's fact-checker has found these claims to be exaggerated. 

Again, California's abortion laws are already quite relaxed, and became even more so last month. Last month, Newsom signed a series of abortion protections into law, including funds for abortion services and the decriminalization of afterbirth abortions. Newsom has been on a crusade to make California into an abortion "sanctuary" and "safe haven" even before the Court overturned Roe. 

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Newsom's pinned tweet on his campaign account doubles down on making California "a safe haven," and also misleads with the suggestion that states would "attempt to prosecute women" who have an abortion. No state law prosecutes the woman for her abortion, and the pro-life movement stands firmly against doing so. 

States allowing abortion up until the moment of birth have some of the most extreme, pro-abortion laws in the world. Just a handful of nations allow for elective abortions up until birth, including China and North Korea.

As Democratic as California may be, polling released last week from Rasmussen Reports and the Capitol Resource Institute showed that the Prop. 1 campaign is losing support. Fifty-nine percent support Prop. 1, down 7 percentage points, even though just 14 percent support support legalized abortion up until birth. A plurality, at 34 percent, believe abortion should be legal up to three months of pregnancy. 

The poll was conducted on October 12, with 1,216 likely California voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. 

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