The following comes from a Sept. 27 story on

Health insurance policies in California will have to cover all federally approved contraceptives for women by 2016 without charging co-payments under legislation signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown, countering trends in other states and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bill, SB1053 by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, expands state laws that required coverage for most birth-control drugs and devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The new law mandates coverage for all FDA-approved contraception, prohibits co-payments and includes managed-care Medi-Cal plans, which are not expressly covered by current laws.

“No woman in California will any longer face the prospect of a health plan second-guessing or overruling the medical or family planning needs she and her health care adviser deem best for her,” Mitchell said in a statement Thursday after Brown signed the bill.

She said she hoped the law would be a model for other states looking to preserve contraceptive coverage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in June that allowed private employers to deny coverage to female employees based on the employer’s religious objections to birth control.

The ruling was based on federal law, not the Constitution, and does not apply to states like California whose laws require insurance coverage for contraception. Current state laws and SB1053 allow churches and other religious institutions to withhold contraceptive coverage, but the exemption does not apply to other employers.

A number of states have responded to the ruling by seeking to limit access to contraceptives, while also enacting restrictions on abortion and abortion providers. California has some of the nation’s strongest abortion-rights laws.

Mitchell’s measure passed both houses on party-line votes. It was supported by reproductive-rights groups, labor unions and some physicians’ groups, but opposed by the insurance industry, which said it would increase costs and premiums. The California Catholic Conference also opposed the bill….

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