June 3, 2022 By Paul Wallin

Penalties for Illegal Abortions in California 

California’s Abortion Law 

Abortion refers to the deliberate termination of a pregnancy, generally using medicine or surgery to remove an embryo or fetus from the uterus. In California,  abortion has been legal since 1967, and the state retains stronger reproductive health rights than much of the rest of the nation. Despite this, California does impose certain restrictions on these procedures. 

The right to an abortion is protected absolutely in two instances. The first is when the fetus is not yet viable, meaning it cannot survive on its own outside the mother’s womb. In general, this encompasses the time period before 24 weeks of pregnancy. The second case is when abortion is necessary in order to protect the mother’s life or health. 

However, limitations on abortion do exist in California. After viability, abortion is only legal if the mother’s life or well-being is threatened by the pregnancy. Additionally, only qualified healthcare professionals with hospital approval and specialized training can perform these procedures. For surgical abortions, the professional must have a valid medical license. For medication abortions, a wider range of medical professionals including nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants may conduct the process. 

Emancipated minors may also obtain an abortion without parental notification or permission because they can legally consent to or refuse medical treatment. For minors who are not emancipated, the minor must obtain the written consent of one parent, have a court order, or face a medical emergency. 

Penalties for Illegal Abortions 

If an abortion is performed illegally, the medical professional (or unqualified individual) may face criminal charges. According to California’s Health and Safety Code Section 123468, the performance of an abortion is unauthorized if either of the following is true: 

  • The person performing the abortion is not a health care provider authorized to perform an abortion
  • The abortion is performed on a viable fetus, and the continuation of the pregnancy posed no risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman. 

Furthermore, according to Health and Safety Code Section 123450, anyone who performs an illegal abortion on an unemancipated minor is guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalties for this misdemeanor include: 

  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 30 days in county jail 

Medical practitioners cannot be forced to perform abortions by their employers. For example, there are no penalties if a doctor refuses to perform an abortion. Medical facilities are likewise free to decline to offer abortion services.

Roe v. Wade: The Future of Abortion Rights in California 

As indicated in a leaked draft opinion, it is likely that the Supreme Court may repeal the ruling in Roe v. Wade, which recognized the constitutional right to abortion. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the right to abortion would depend on each state’s laws. California remains one of the states with laws to keep abortion legal. 

Because California has been regarded as a sanctuary for those seeking reproductive health rights, the state will likely receive an influx of women from states without such protections. As such, wait times for abortions may increase drastically. In anticipation of the reversal, many activists and lawmakers have been making contingency plans, such as passing laws to expand abortion access and creating funds for out-of-state women seeking abortions. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you have a question about abortion law in California, contact Wallin & Klarich for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney. With 40+ years of experience and offices throughout Southern California, Wallin & Klarich is your best option when it comes to criminal defense firms. Our attorneys specialize in defending clients across a wide range of cases, and we have the resources and skills to handle your case. We understand the sensitive nature of discussions surrounding abortion, but we are here to ensure that you understand your rights and feel comfortable in our space. You can place your trust in us. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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