Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there have been several developments in both California and Washington, DC regarding reproductive health care.
⇊ Scroll to the bottom for actions YOU can take ⇊
Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 1666 which protects patients and medical health providers who partook in the abortion process from lawsuits in other states with abortion bans.
Newsom has also created a Reproductive Health Package which includes:
- $125 million to bolster California’s health care infrastructure, expand access to abortion for patients, and help prepare for the surge of people seeking reproductive health care from other states
- $40 million for grants to reproductive health care providers to offset the cost of providing care to low/moderate-income individuals
- $15 million for justice organizations to conduct medically accurate outreach and education
- $1 million to develop a website that provides accurate and updated information about public right to an abortion under state law
- $1 million for research regarding access to reproductive health care services
President Joe Biden’s Administration has announced an executive order to help protect access to abortion, which would:
- Establish an interagency task force on reproductive health care access
- Give Health and Human Services (HHS) the power to expand access to emergency contraception such as intrauterine devices
- Prevent states from banning Mifepristone, an FDA approved medication used to end early pregnancy
- Ramp up outreach and public education efforts on abortion so Americans have accurate information about their rights to reproductive health care
- Order private attorneys and organizations to provide more legal representation to those seeking legal abortions or those providing legal abortions
- Protect patient privacy by asking the chair of the Federal Trade Commission to take steps to protect consumer privacy when pursuing information regarding reproductive health care services
- Protect abortion care providers, including mobile clinics providing care for out-of-state patients
On Monday July 11, following President Biden’s Executive order, the Department of Health and Human Services made it clear that regardless of the state, emergency care including abortions is legal.
“Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care. Today, in no uncertain terms, we are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care.”
— HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra
Although these are positive steps, President Biden’s executive order falls short in many areas. Here’s a list of additional actions the Biden Administration can take to protect abortion rights:
- Announce a “whole of government” response. Biden can demand that the head of each federal agency, with ties to abortion access in the country, explore options for action. These federal agencies could be the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Defense, or the Commerce Department.
- Remove FDA restrictions on abortion pills. Although the FDA has approved Mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortions, requirements to recieve the medication remain strict. It is possible for Biden to lift these restrictions and make abortion medication just as safe and accessible as other FDA-approved drugs.
- Prevent bans on abortion pills. Many state abortion bans or restrictions on abortion pills contradict FDA regulations of abortion pills. The federal government may preempt these laws and prohibit a state from banning medication abortion.
- Declare a public health emergency. By doing so, the federal government would receive greater power, including the ability to redirect federal funds. Biden could, for example, grant civil immunity for licensed medical providers who practice in states in which they do not hold a license.
- Protect abortion travel. By requiring travel to be open across state lines, states would not be able to limit travel for women seeking abortions in other states. Although Biden has stated that he supports this, we have yet to see any action from the Administration.
“WHAT CAN I DO?”
There are several bills in California that we can take action on today. See these priority bills on Planned Parenthood of California’s legislative page.
AB 657 would require the Medical Board of California, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, the Board of Registered Nursing, and the Physician Assistannt Board to expedite the licensure process for applicants who intend to provide abortions.
AB 1242 would prohibit a peace officer from arresting a person for performing, aiding, or receiving an abortion. It would also prohibit law enforcement agencies from cooperating with or providing information to another individual or agency regarding a lawful abortion.
AB 2091 would protect the right of confidentiality among individuals who seek or consider an abortion. Under the pretext that abortion care is a constitutional right, California must protect the privacy of medical records related to abortion. It would also prohibit health care providers from releasing medical information related to abortions upon request from state’s interfering with a person’s rights stated in the Reproductive Privacy Act.
Blog written by JCJ summer legislative fellow Abigail Wolf.