Though California is recognized for protecting women’s right to choose today, this was not always the case. Abortion was illegal in California, as it was in all other states in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; over time, however, California witnessed a series of legal amendments and cases that pressed on its nineteenth-century statute—culminating in the decriminalization of abortion years before Roe v. Wade. This article begins with the history of California abortion legislation, then analyzes recent laws passed elsewhere in the United States, showing how these new laws simply repeat laws previously passed and discarded in California. This overview should prove helpful to citizens and legislators who wish their states to follow suit and protect choice.

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