California Capitol building.
By Alan Riquelmy
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed eight health care bills that heighten protections for those who provide abortion care, expand the health care workforce and protect information about reproductive health care.
The governor’s office said the bills are part of California’s effort to protect access to reproductive health care and maintain the state’s status as a safe haven.
“Radical politicians continue their all out assault on women’s health care with dangerous and deadly consequences,” Newsom said in a statement. “The right to an abortion is enshrined in California’s constitution. We will continue to protect women and health care workers who are seeking and providing basic care.”
Newsom’s signatures on the bills come about a year after the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, which removed the constitutional right to an abortion enshrined in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Several states since Dobbs have significantly curtailed abortion rights, while California has positioned itself as a leader in protecting reproductive choice.
Among the bills signed into law Wednesday include Senate Bill 487, written by state Senate President pro
Tempore Toni G. Atkins, a San Diego Democrat. It offers more safeguards for abortion providers who use the Medi-Cal program, regardless of activities in another state. For example, California providers would be protected from contract termination and discrimination for actions taken in other states, but which are legal here.
“This bill is about protecting access by protecting the providers, and ensures that they can continue to provide critical reproductive care here, where it is legal and enshrined in our state constitution,” Atkins said when it passed the Legislature.
Senate Bill 345 — by state Senator Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat — creates protections against the enforcement of other state laws that criminalize, sanction or interfere with someone who has reproductive health care or gender-affirming health care services in California.
“As abortions, contraception, and other essential health care continue to be criminalized across the country, California is not backing down,” Skinner said in a statement. “These bills further strengthen and expand California’s legal protections for patients, doctors, nurses and everyone involved in providing and dispensing reproductive and gender-affirming care.”
Assembly Bill 1707 — written by Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco, a Downey Democrat — ensures clinics, facilities and health care professionals cannot be denied a license, or face discipline due to action imposed by another state, based only on a law in that state that denies a right to receive services that is legal in California.
Two of the bills focus on protecting patients and providers.
Assembly Bill 571 — written by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, a Laguna Beach Democrat — restricts insurers from refusing professional liability coverage for health care providers, or imposing a surcharge on them, because they offer services like abortion, gender-affirming care or contraception.
AB 1720 — written by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, an Orinda Democrat — requires ultrasound technology and similar devices be used only in licensed facilities or used by licensed providers.
“Reproductive rights — patient rights — provider rights — have always been my priority,” Bauer-Kahan said on X, formerly called Twitter.
Newsom signed two other bills Wednesday written by Bauer-Kahan.
Assembly Bill 254 amends the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act to ensure reproductive and sexual health information is protected. AB 352 increases privacy on medical information about sensitive services. It also restricts a health care provider, service plan, contractor or employer from working with another state’s investigation by providing medical information to that state which could identify someone seeking abortion services.
“In a medical setting, people should never fear that their information will be used against them,” Bauer-Kahan wrote in a bill analysis. “Patients who live in states with abortion bans are traveling to access needed care, but those patients risk their safety when they return to their home state.”
The remaining bill signed Wednesday deals with growing the reproductive health care workforce.
AB 1646 — written by Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen, an Elk Grove Democrat — allows out-of-state medical residents in guest rotations with properly accredited programs to practice medicine for three months without having a post-graduate training license.
“AB 1646 will ensure that graduates can access reproductive health training regardless of hostile laws in their state prohibiting the practice of certain types of medical services including abortion,” Nguyen posted on X.
SB 385, written by Atkins and signed Sept. 8, allows physician assistants to offer abortion care after getting the proper training.