California’s Democratic leaders are making moves to protect abortion rights following the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

Still, Gov. Gavin Newsom and other legislative leaders are working to add an amendment to the California constitution. Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said she plans to introduce the amendment, which would specifically clarify abortion as a protected right. The idea of the proposed amendment is to ensure the right to choose, no matter what happens on the state or federal level.

“We will not back down. We will double down,” Atkins said. “If the Supreme Court of the United States won’t protect our bodily autonomy, California will make sure our constitution leaves no room for confusion.”

One bill has already been signed by Newsom, and that is Senate Bill 245, which eliminates cost-sharing. It requires all state-licensed health care service plans or disability insurance policies issued after 2022 to cover abortion services without a co-payment, deductible, or any type of cost-sharing requirement. These cost-sharing protections would apply to a health plan enrollee’s covered spouse and dependents and to Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

Other reproductive rights legislation in the works

  • Assembly Bill 1666 would protect patients and providers from civil actions and financial retaliation they might face for providing abortion care that is legal in California.
  • Assembly Bill 1918 would create the California Reproductive Health Service Corps in the Department of Health Care Access and Information. It would be responsible for recruiting, training and retaining a diverse workforce.
  • Assembly Bill 2091 would protect the medical privacy of patients by ensuring that out-of-state subpoenas are not granted.
  • Assembly Bill 2134 would create the California Reproductive Health Equity Program to give grant funding to safety net providers who offer abortion. This would increase access for people who seek abortions but cannot pay for them.
  • Assembly Bill 2205 would require a health care service plan to annually report the total amount of funds in the segregated account maintained pursuant to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  • Assembly Bill 2223 would make sure no one in California will be investigated, prosecuted or incarcerated for ending a pregnancy.
  • Assembly Bill 2320 would establish a pilot program for five counties in California to support capacity building for community health centers that provide reproductive healthcare services.
  • Assembly Bill 2586 would address the reproductive health disparities facing communities of color. The bill would combat this by developing policy recommendations and support reproductive justice community-based organizations.
  • Assembly Bill 2626 would protect abortion providers by preventing professional boards from revoking or suspending their licenses for providing legal abortion care.
  • Senate Bill 1142 would create a website under California Health and Human Services which would direct people to links for abortion care, post-operation resources and financial support services.
  • Senate Bill 1245 would support a funded pilot program for Los Angeles County to build on statewide efforts to advance California as a “Reproductive Freedom” state.
  • Senate Bill 1375 would allow nurse practitioners who are authorized to practice independently, to provide first-trimester abortion care without physician supervision.

On the other hand, pro-life advocates said they think California lawmakers should follow the lead of the Supreme Court draft opinion. The group Californians for Life protested outside a Sacramento Planned Parenthood building Tuesday, as they do every Tuesday and Wednesday, and said California should do what some other states have done: institute an abortion ban.

“We see the country going in the right direction,” Californians for Life Director Wynette Sills said. “But unfortunately, things will remain either the same or probably get even worse in terms of pro-abortion position that our governor has taken.”

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