After Roe’s fall, California expands abortion protections
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California legislature wrapped up Wednesday after approving more than a dozen bills aimed at making abortion easier, a show of force that was the result of more than a year meticulous care. the planning was to assert the state’s claim as a sanctuary for women after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Lawmakers passed 15 bills and approved $200 million in new spending to bolster the state’s already strong abortion protections. The flurry of activity is not over, as voters will decide in November to make abortion a constitutional right in the nation’s most populous state.
The bills easily passed the Democratic-dominated Legislature and some have already become law. Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign most of the rest before the end of the month.
Over the next few years, the state will funnel millions of dollars to clinics to cover the cost of abortions for women who cannot afford them, including women who live in the country without legal permission. He has pledged to spend up to $20 million to bring women from other states to California for abortions, covering expenses such as travel, accommodation and childcare.
California will block enforcement in the state of other states’ abortion bans, including a Texas law that allows people to sue anyone who performs or facilitates an abortion on a woman in that state. It will also prevent law enforcement agencies and businesses from complying with out-of-state subpoenas or other requests for information about abortions obtained legally in California.
Women with private insurance will not pay copayments for abortions, while religious employers who do not cover the cost of abortions through insurance would be required to provide their workers with a list of services reproductions available to the public.
“None of this was a knee-jerk reaction trying to do legislation in any performative way,” said Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “All of this was very well thought out upstream with a group of experts.”
Abortion haters are preparing to respond, with California Family Council President Jonathan Keller saying the group is “exploring all of our legal and procedural options”. Keller said the bill requiring religious employers to provide abortion service listings is “really ripe for a Supreme Court challenge,” citing a previous California law the courts struck down that required pregnancy centers in crisis alerting clients to publicly available abortion options.
“California does not offer (women) a free plane ticket and a free hotel room to come to California and give birth or come to California and get prenatal care,” Keller said. “They literally say we will bring you here, but only if you make the choice which is the government approved decision for your pregnancy. I think a lot of people… see it as hypocrisy.
State Senator Toni Atkins, Democrat of San Diego and leader of the Senate, said deciding to have an abortion is “deeply personal.” Atkins worked at an abortion clinic in San Diego, where she said most of her clients chose to have abortions, but some weren’t once presented with all of their options.
“Women need support for whatever they decide to do, and they need to be able to talk to their health care provider, their lawyer, to get that information and be directed to where they need to go,” she said. “People don’t want to think about having an abortion every day. … I think people should have the luxury of not having to think about it unless it becomes something they need.
California’s most high-profile abortion bill aims to stop prosecutors from charging women with murder for having stillbirths from drug use or other prenatal issues . If prosecutors charged them anyway, the legislation would allow the women to sue them for damages.
Democrats amended the bill to clarify that it only barred lawsuits for pregnancy losses that occurred “in utero.” But abortion haters said the bill was too broad and would prevent coroners from investigating some infant deaths.
“The real purpose of this bill is to cover up the crime of botched abortion or self-induced abortion,” Republican Senator Shannon Grove said.
Lawmakers are probably not done passing abortion bills. Atkins said she believes California is still “in the process” of responding to the end of federal abortion protections, adding that many communities in California still lack abortion providers.
“The goal is to make sure every county in every community is covered,” Atkins said. “We’re starting to see more women, and that’s going to keep others waiting.”
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