California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued guidance to help protect out-of-state patients seeking reproductive care in the state and those who assist with such care. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Attorney General Bonta sponsored a new law, AB 1242, that made it illegal for California’s law enforcement to assist out-of-state agencies in investigating, arresting, or prosecuting anyone for seeking, performing, or assisting others in seeking a legal abortion.
In a bulletin sent to local District Attorneys, Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, and State Law Enforcement Agencies, Attorney General Bonta warned that out-of-state agencies seeking their help might conceal their intent under the guise of investigations into other crimes, such as child endangerment, child abuse, drug abuse, concealing a death, or murder. The bulletin directs California law enforcement to carefully examine requests from law enforcement in states where abortion is illegal.
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – we will protect anyone who comes to California in search of reproductive care, including access to safe and legal abortion,” said Attorney General Bonta. “California stands as a safe haven and a beacon of hope for many. And reproductive freedom is non-negotiable. It takes all of us working together to ensure our rights are protected, and I urge all of our partners to read this critical guidance.”
AB 1242 prohibits the arrest of anyone for aiding or performing a lawful abortion in California, and prohibits California law enforcement from sharing information or assisting in an investigation related to a lawful abortion with out-of-state agencies. Out-of-state law enforcement could inquire about prescriptions for medications used for abortions and the taking of these medications, internet or phone-based apps to get these medications or a surgical abortion, and providing or seeking an abortion.
The bulletin specifically addresses:
- Arrests, examining out-of-state warrants, and information sharing
- Authorization for intercepting electronic or wire communications or to install trap and trace devices
- Bail and extradition
A copy of today’s guidance is available here.
Supporting, expanding, and protecting reproductive freedoms is a top priority for Attorney General Bonta. In September, Attorney General Bonta issued legal guidance on the prohibition of the extradition of individuals providing or accessing reproductive care in California. In June, the Attorney General issued guidance on abortion rights and protections under California law, which remain fully intact, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. In preparation for the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Attorney General Bonta issued an information bulletin to law enforcement to remind them of state laws protecting access to reproductive healthcare and security for providers. He also issued a consumer alert warning Californians seeking reproductive health services about the limited and potentially misleading nature of the services provided by crisis pregnancy centers, and emphasized health apps’ obligations under California law to protect and secure reproductive health information.
The above comes from an Oct. 20 release from the attorney general’s office.