CAMPAIGN ’98: Governor Wields Influence Over Reproductive Issues
Yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle looked at the state's two major gubernatorial candidates' -- Democrat Gray Davis and Republican Dan Lungren -- "deep divide over abortion," noting that the office of governor may wield significant influence on the issue. Both sides of the abortion debate "proclaim the California governor's race to be the nation's premier battleground over abortion and reproductive rights," the Chronicle reported. Davis has already received the backing of two major pro-choice groups -- Voters for Choice and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. Lungren has said that except for parental consent, late-term abortions and taxpayer funding of abortions -- which he is for, against and against, respectively -- "the governor has no real role to play in influencing the question of abortion."
But according to those on both sides of the fence, the governor does play a big role in the abortion debate. "The governor signs bills and makes appointments to all areas that are important (in family planning and abortion)," said Jan Carroll, a legislative analyst for National Right to Life and California Right to Life. "There are many ways that an agenda can be advanced," she said. Tanya Zumach, the Northern California director for the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, said the governor "has budget power ... and veto power, which is really important to funding for contraception, sex education, abortion care and health care." She said, "He also has the power to appoint California Supreme Court justices."
More Power To Ya
The Chronicle reported that "California's governor oversees the State Department of Health's Office of Family Planning, which budgets $82 million to fund contraceptives, pregnancy testing, sex education" and "health examinations for nearly 600,000 low-income women and girls in California." In addition, the state "grants money to clinics that perform abortions." The Chronicle also reported that "under Gov. Pete Wilson, the state's Expanded Teen Counseling Program provides family planning and counseling to more than 350,000 youth statewide." And most notably, the governor "[w]ields huge legislative influence" over such controversial legislation as late-term abortion (Marinucci, 7/28). Click here to read an original California Healthline piece about the role abortion will play in this year's campaigns.