California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed a package of 12 bills into law, establishing some of the strongest abortion protections in the country — a direct response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to void federal abortion safeguards earlier this year.
Collectively, the new laws aim to improve access and protect patients and clinicians by strengthening confidentiality safeguards, ensuring providers and patients cannot be sued or sued, and funding procedures and travel costs. for low income people. They also seek to strengthen the network of abortion clinics in the state as more and more patients from states where abortion is now strictly restricted or banned are seeking procedures in California.
Newsom first announced the signing privately to stakeholders, and Jodi Hicks, CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said many in the virtual room were emotional.
“It’s been a long year of hard work,” Hicks said. “You could see a lot of emotion and pride.”
The package was supported by the California Council on the Future of Abortiona 46-member coalition of reproductive rights and health and justice groups convened by Newsom in 2021 to identify abortion defects and recommend policy solutions.
“It’s certainly by design that we’re leading this effort and supporting our values,” Hicks said.
Without the council’s work throughout the legislative session, lawmakers would not have been able to respond so quickly to the Supreme Court’s decision, Hicks said. Many bills included amendments reacting to bans and restrictions announced in other states.
“My whole generation lived with Roe v. Wade being the law of the land, so it’s not like we have a map of how to navigate a system without those protections,” Hicks said. “It really took everyone coming together to craft this collection of bills to become a state of reproductive freedom and a beacon of hope.”
newsom vetoed an invoice in the package last week, citing “lower-than-expected revenue” and the need for fiscal responsibility. This bill would have required the state to fund pilot reproductive health programs in five counties.
Although fiercely opposed by a minority of religious groups and conservatives, the measures crossed Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the legislature.
Voters will decide in November whether to add a state constitutional amendment protecting the right to obtain an abortion.
newsom has made abortion a central part of its re-election campaign, drawing on California’s reputation as a reproductive health “safe haven” in its frequent attacks on other states’ politics. Likewise, many seat-fighting Democrats jumped on abortion as the definition problem upcoming national and mid-term elections. In June, Newsom approved a budget investing more than $200 million in reproductive health services.
Wicks’ measure abolishes the requirement for coroners to investigate stillbirths and bars the prosecution of anyone who terminates a pregnancy even if the abortion is self-induced or occurs outside of the medical system. Protesters in front of the Capitol and conservative lawmakers claimed the legislation would legalize infaticide, which Wicks called “misinformation”.
Caballero and Skinner’s measure introduced the $20 million Abortion Convenience Support Fund to help women pay for travel, accommodation and other expenses that advocates say create barriers to abortion. access. Although the money was guaranteed in the state budget, Newsom has limited its use to California residentsa movement of abortion advocates rallied hard to knock down in the last days of the legislative session. Last-minute amendments to the health omnibus budget bill allow out-of-state residents to receive grants from the fund.
Caballero and Skinner’s measure also required the state to create a abortion information site detailing state laws and resources, which Newsom launched two weeks before the bill was signed.
Other measures in the package allow nurse practitioners to perform certain abortion procedures without the supervision of a physician; providing loans and bursaries to clinicians-in-training who are committed to providing reproductive health care in underserved areas; and prohibit California-based law enforcement, medical providers and technology companies from cooperating with law enforcement in states where abortion is criminalized.
Although California does not collect comprehensive data on abortionapproximately 154,000 abortions were performed in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institutea national reproductive rights think tank that periodically surveys abortion providers.
Guttmacher believes California has become the closest abortion provider to 1.3 million women of reproductive age while other states institute bans. More conservative estimates suggest between 8,000 and 16,100 more women will flock to California for abortions, according to UCLA’s Center on Law, Reproductive Health, and Policy.