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Planned Parenthood protects and defends women's access to a full range of reproductive health care, including abortion services.

Decisions about childbearing should be made by women, their families, and their doctors — not by politicians.

In order to make an informed decision, women need information on all reproductive health care options and should have the ability to access obtain safe, legal abortion services without interference from the government.

History of Abortion Law in California

1850 – Penal Code Section 274

  • Outlawed all abortion unless necessary to preserve a woman’s life.

Mid-20th-Century: Illegal abortions became the leading cause of maternal death, disability and infertility. For example, in 1961 LA County Hosptal admitted over 3,500 patients treated for illegal abortions1.

1967 – California's Governor Ronald Reagan signs the Therapeutic Abortion Act

  • Made abortion legal if authorized by a hospital committee that finds the pregnancy will gravely impair a woman’s physical or mental health, or where a local district attorney or court finds probable cause to believe the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

1969 – People v. Belous California Supreme Court decision

  • Ruled that women have a fundamental right to decide whether to have a child and to protect their health.

1973 – Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision

  • Ruled that government may not prohibit abortion before fetal viability or if abortion is necessary to preserve the woman’s health.

2000 – Senate Bill 370 (Sen. John Burton)

  • Repealed the 1850 criminal laws on abortion.

2002 – Senate Bill 1301 (Sen. Sheila Kuehl)

  • Repealed the 1967 Therapeutic Abortion Act and established a contemporary abortion law for California:

Health & Safety Code Section 123462 (2002)
“The Legislature finds and declares that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions. Accordingly, it is the public policy of the State of California that: (a) Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control. (b) Every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child or to choose and to obtain an abortion, except as specifically limited by this article. The state may not deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose or obtain an abortion prior to viability of the fetus, or when the abortion is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.”

Planned Parenthood protects women's health by opposing harmful laws at the federal, state, and local level that would limit access to safe and legal abortion. Our volunteers fill the in-boxes of legislators with messages opposing laws that would restrict women’s access to safe reproductive care. Visit our Get Involved page to view current campaigns and get involved. Join our email list today to stay informed and help us protect access to reproductive health care services.

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California lobbies all levels of government for common-sense policies that prevent unplanned pregnancy and the need for abortion.


1. Kistner, Medical Indications for Contraception: Changing Viewpoints (editorial) (1965) 25 Obst. & Gynec. 285, 286.

The web site is a collaborative project of:
Community Action Fund of Planned Parenthood Orange and San Bernardino Counties
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest
Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific Action Fund
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties
Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte
Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California

A project of Planned Parenthood Action Funds in California, 501(c)(4) organizations. Copyright 2013,
Paid for by the local Planned Parenthood 501(c)4 organization PAC and local Planned Parenthood 501(c)4 organization. (
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.