Democrats continue to push to bolster California’s role as an abortion sanctuary

Democratic lawmakers on Monday introduced a package of bills aimed at further bolstering California’s role as an abortion haven after last year’s repeal of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in the Roe case. against Wade.

Although Governor Gavin Newsom signed multiple laws last year to expand abortion access in California in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Democratic lawmakers said more would be needed this year to protect the privacy of people seeking an abortion, protecting abortion providers, and expanding insurance coverage. Their goal is to strengthen the state’s abortion infrastructure for Californians as well as patients in other states where abortion has been restricted or banned.

“We can’t rest at all in this onslaught,” Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said at a press conference at the state Capitol, where the Women’s Legislative Caucus unveiled 17 draft bills. law.

“We have a great package of bills to advance reproductive justice, to strengthen protections for people who may end up coming to our state, to our distributors and to our health care providers.”

Several bills in the package would expand privacy protections for people seeking abortion, contraception or health care during pregnancy. Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan’s (D-Orinda) AB 254 would strengthen privacy rules for data shared on digital apps, such as fertility or pregnancy trackers. Its AB 352 would strengthen the confidentiality of medical records related to abortion or pregnancy loss that are shared through electronic health information exchanges.

AB 793 aims to protect people from digital surveillance related to reproductive health care by eliminating so-called reverse requests in which law enforcement can ask technology companies for the identity of people searching for specific terms such than “medical abortion,” said Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D-Alameda).

Other bills in the package would add new requirements for insurance companies. Assemblyman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine)’s AB 571 would require medical malpractice insurance to cover sexual and reproductive health, which she says is necessary to keep some clinics open and able to provide access to abortion. AB 1432 by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), would require health insurance companies based outside of California to cover abortion and gender-affirming care to policyholders in the state .

The new legislation also includes efforts to educate the public about abortion options and other reproductive health services. AB 598 requires public school districts to conduct a survey of students in grades seven through twelfth that includes “information about obtaining abortions at different stages of pregnancy,” according to the bill. Assemblyman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland).

AB 710 would create a public information campaign about crisis pregnancy centers that do not offer abortions, although the details have yet to be specified. A previous California law that required faith-based pregnancy centers that oppose abortion to inform patients that the state offers subsidized abortions was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2018.

“When women need access to health care, it is essential that the information they get is factual and that providers have the best interests in mind, not an agenda to discourage you from seeking an abortion. “said MP Pilar Schiavo (D-Chatsworth), author of AB 710.

Kristin Turner, executive director of the nonprofit Pro-Life San Francisco, said AB 710 will make it harder for abortion opponents to support women during pregnancy. But she said the legislation she’s most concerned about is AB 1646, which will allow out-of-state medical students to perform abortion and gender-affirming care in California for 90 days. .

“If California does this, our greatest export will be murdered children,” Turner said. “If Governor Newsom signs these bills, it won’t just be his hands that will be covered in blood, it will be his entire office.”

The bills introduced in California’s Democrat-dominated Capitol reflect the rift between red states and blue states that has widened since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision last year, ending constitutional abortion protections which had been in place for almost 50 years. In its ruling, the court said the Constitution does not protect the right to abortion, allowing states to prohibit or restrict the procedure.

In California, the ruling sparked a rush by Newsom and Democrat lawmakers to protect and expand abortion access and encourage people in states restricting the procedure to turn to the Golden State for care.

In 2022, Newsom signed 15 abortion and reproductive health protection bills that provide safe sites, eliminate copays for procedures, and protect against out-of-state investigation. In November, voters in the state right to abortion into the California Constitution by enacting Proposition 1.

“We’re not done,” Bauer-Kahan said Monday. “Less than a year has passed since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and California has made incredible progress in protecting access to abortion services. The Women’s Caucus stands ready to work and continue to ensure that every woman and pregnant person who comes to California seeking abortion care has access to services in a way that is safe, accessible, and dignified.

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