What California is doing to protect abortion access
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, California acted swiftly to protect abortion rights and access.
Protecting patients, providers, and supporters
- California voters passed Proposition 1, which explicitly enshrines in the state constitution the right to choose to have an abortion.
- Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-12-22, which:
- Prohibits state agencies from cooperating with out-of-state abortion actions such as preventing medical records, patient data and other information from being shared by state agencies in response to inquiries or investigations brought by other states or individuals within those states looking to restrict abortion care access; and
- Adopts a policy of declining out-of-state extradition requests related to legal abortions in California.
- Several bills were enacted into law by the legislature and the governor:
- AB 1242 seeks to stop law enforcement and California corporations from cooperating with out-of-state entities regarding legal abortions in California.
- AB 1666 seeks to protect people or entities in California from civil liability for providing, aiding, or receiving abortion care in the state.
- AB 2091 seeks to keep medical information about abortion private, even in response to an out-of-state subpoena or request.
- AB 2223 seeks to protect people from criminal and civil liabilities when they lose a pregnancy.
- The Department of Health Care Services issued All Plan Letter (APL) 22-022 reminding Medi-Cal Managed Care Health Plans that they must:
- Cover abortion care without imposing access hurdles
- Allow enrollees to go to any Medi-Cal provider for abortion care
- Help enrollees find an abortion care provider if a health care provider does not offer abortion care services
- Pay out-of-network abortion providers no less than the Medi-Cal Fee-For-Service rate
- The Department of Managed Health Care issued APL 22-027 reminding all California health plans that they must provide timely access to medically necessary basic health care services when plan members are outside of California. This includes abortion care.
- The Department of Insurance issued Bulletin 2022-7 clarifying that:
- Abortion care is a basic health care service.
- Abortion care medication must also be covered as part of an insurer’s outpatient prescription drug benefit.
- California pharmacies will be certified to dispense abortion medication in early 2023.
- Starting on January 1, 2023, insurers cannot impose cost-sharing for abortion care and related services or utilization management or review for covering outpatient abortion care services
- The Department of Justice released a consumer alert with steps people can take to better protect their privacy when accessing abortion care.
- The Department of Justice created a new consumer complaint form for Californians who have been the victim or target of deceptive, misleading, unfair, or unlawful conduct by fake clinics (aka crisis pregnancy centers).
Expanding access to services
- California allocated over $200 million in 2022-23 to support people seeking abortion care and abortion providers over several fiscal years. These funds support the following activities:
- Help those seeking abortion care with practical support expenses like travel, lodging and other related costs
- Cover uninsured abortion care
- Support health care facilities and providers
- Improve security at abortion care facilities
- Several bills were enacted into law by the Legislature and the Governor:
- SB 245 ends cost-sharing for abortion care services.
- SB 523 increases access to birth control, regardless of gender or insurance.
- SB 1142 creates California’s abortion access website where the public can access information on abortion services in the state, including with respect to their legal rights, provider locations, practical support for patients, and combatting misinformation.
- SB 1245 created a reproductive health pilot in Los Angeles County that will explore innovative ways and collaborations to safeguard abortion care access.
- SB 1375 expands certain abortion training options for nurse practitioners and certified nurse-midwives.
- AB 657 speeds up licensing for health care professionals that come to California to perform abortions.
- AB 1918 created the California Reproductive Health Scholarship Corps to recruit, train, and retain diverse reproductive health care professionals in underserved areas of the state.
- AB 2205 requires reporting by Covered California on funds used to cover abortion care.
- AB 2134 created the California Reproductive Health Equity Program to provide grants to health care providers who provide uncompensated abortion care to patients.
- AB 2586 created the California Reproductive Justice and Freedom Fund to provide grants supporting comprehensive reproductive and sexual health education, including abortion care, in disproportionately impacted communities.
- AB 2626 stops licensing boards from suspending or revoking licenses solely because a provider performed an abortion.
Sharing California’s model
- California launched the Multi-State Commitment to Reproductive Freedom with the governors of Oregon and Washington.
- SB 1142 authorized the creation of abortion.ca.gov to both increase access to reliable and accurate information about abortion care access and share California’s strategies to maintain and expand that access around the nation.