A Measure to Make Abortion “First-Degree Murder” Could Be on the Ballot in 2018

Secretary of State Alex Padilla gave the proposal the go-ahead it needs to collect 585,407 qualified signatures.

Anti-abortion activists are so single-minded in their quest, they’ll even ruin a Fourth of July Parade (Daniel Ehinger)

The red-state, blue-state divide has never been perfect. Texas is very red, but Austin is indigo; Oregon is very blue, but Klamath Falls is ruby-red. But although California is very blue — and getting bluer — our system of occasional government-by-proposition yields the occasional oddity that would be more appropriate to decidedly more conservative parts of the country.

Leaving aside 2016’s Proposition 50 — the one that would have mandated that porn actors wear condoms, an absurdity I still can’t believe I actually had to vote against — or venture capitalist Tim Draper’s failed attempt to separate California into six states for the benefit of innovative Silicon Valley disruptors, we may have another dubious one for 2018.

Anti-choice activists led by one Daniel Ehinger have gotten approval to collect signatures for a proposal to make abortion a crime equivalent to first-degree murder and ban in vitro fertilization. The Sacramento Bee reports that Secretary of State Alex Padilla officially sanctioned the would-be measure on Friday, and Ehinger must now gather 585,407 John Hancocks from qualified voters in Safeway parking lots from Crescent City to San Ysidro. It’s a steep threshold — well over 1,000 per day — and in a state where strong majorities support a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, the odds are not in Ehinger’s favor.

If this one does make the ballot, it will no doubt attract significant national attention from the Defund Planned Parenthood crowd, only to go down in flames before the electorate that voted down a parental-consent restriction in 2008, by 52-48. Equating abortion with murder — and, by extension, calling millions of women murderers — is beyond the pale for many conservatives. Remember, even Donald Trump had to walk back a call to “punish” women who undergo the procedure.

It’s also patently unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion rights in 1973 and again in 1992. While anti-choice activists have succeeded in restricting abortion access in Republican-controlled states, that’s entirely different from criminalizing it altogether.

Ehinger is also the same guy whose Abolitionist Society crashed a Fourth of July parade in Templeton, Calif., last summer with a float that said “This Is Your Holocaust,” presided over by a Statue of Liberty and lots of pictures of babies. It didn’t go over so well, as some people called it “fraud on [the] Kiwanis” Club. 

His Facebook page is fairly bursting with posts, and it does seem that “ending human abortion” is his obsession. Today being the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, he has more than one graphic up that compares the almost-3,000 lives lost to the thousands of lives lost “every day” when women choose to terminate their unplanned or unwanted pregnancies — and that’s in addition to his deliberate use of the word “holocaust.” With all due respect to the sincerity of Ehinger’s beliefs, many people would no doubt find these comparisons rather callow.

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