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California Abortion Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Last updated 11/12/2019

Everyone has their own opinion on the debate over abortion. But where does the law stand, especially in a big state like California? Abortion laws in California are less restrictive than those in many other states, which may impose waiting periods, consent requirements, strict facility codes, or regulatory requirements. In California, nurse midwives and other non-physician medical professionals (with the proper training) are allowed to perform the procedure.

California Abortion Laws and Minors

California does not require minors to obtain parental consent to receive an abortion, but that right is based on case law and not on any statute. In fact, Health & Safety Code Sec. 123450 appears to require either parental consent or a court order. However, before the statute became law, it was declared unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court based on California's constitutional guarantee of a right to privacy. However, Section 123450 is still on the books and still requires a minor to give written consent to receive an abortion, but the requirement for parental consent is not operative.

California Abortion Laws: An Overview

This article focuses on the basic provisions of California abortion laws. The chart below provides a helpful, plain-language summary of statutes that comprise California's laws, with links to important code sections.

Statutes

California Health & Safety Code:

California Business and Professions Code:

Senate Bill No. 24

Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion

Performed by an unauthorized person (Health and Safety Code Section 12364)

Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion

Any medical treatment intended to induce the termination of a pregnancy except for the purpose of producing a live birth

Consent Requirements

In case of unemancipated minor, only written consent of minor required.

Residency Requirements for Patients

Not required.

Physician Licensing Requirements

Approved hospital and unanimous approval of medical committee of hospital (unless the health of mother impaired or rape or incest); certified physician/surgeons; nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, and physicians' assistants who complete specified training.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

California Abortion Laws: Related Resources

Abortion laws are constantly changing, especially as more time passes since the biggest abortion case, Roe v. Wade, was decided. Ever since then, abortion in the United States has been legal, and women have a right to choose whether to have an abortion during the early stages of her pregnancy. However, states are allowed to regulate certain aspects of abortion after the first trimester, such as imposing counseling, waiting periods, and other requirements. During the third trimester, there is generally little or no legal way to have an abortion in most states (unless your life is in danger).

Given the different abortion laws across jurisdictions, navigating the emotional and legal ramifications is not an easy task. For more information, visit the following sections:

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Abortion-Related Questions

While you have the right to access a safe abortion, states are still allowed to place certain restrictions on that right, which can make the process of getting an abortion more difficult. While California provides greater access to abortion services than other states, it's an important decision with many legal facets. If you have questions about abortion access or other abortion-related concerns, it's a good idea to call a family law attorney near you today.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.