By ADAM BEAM, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed new legislation to make abortions cheaper for people with private insurance plans, the first of more than a dozen bills that state Democratic leaders plan to pass this year to prepare for a potential U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could overturn Roe v. Wade.
New conservative majority on U.S. Supreme Court debates whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that prohibited states from banning abortion.
If they do, at least 26 states are likely to outright ban abortion or severely limit access, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that supports human rights. ‘abortion.
This would force many women to travel to other states for abortions, prompting Democratic-led states like California to propose and pass new laws to prepare for it.
Last week, Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation to ban legal action against people who assist or receive abortions, a move that responds to Texas law that allows people to sue abortion providers or those who assist them.
Oregon lawmakers included $15 million in their state budget to help pay people who travel to the state for abortions.
California has a similar bill, one of 14 proposals to expand and protect abortion access in the nation’s most populous state. The bills were inspired by a report from the Future of Abortion Council, a group Newsom convened last year to advise him on how to respond if Roe v. Wade is canceled.
“We’re looking at 26 states that will introduce some sort of abortion ban and restriction, so you have the other half of the country that will have to prepare for how we care for these patients,” said Jodi Hicks, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “We’re all imagining and all trying to properly prepare for what that impact will be.”
California already requires health insurance companies to cover abortions. But insurers often charge co-pays and deductibles that can add an average of $543 to the cost of a medical abortion and $887 to the cost of a procedural abortion, according to an analysis by the California Health Benefits Review Program.
The law Newsom signed Tuesday eliminates those fees. While the law will make abortions cheaper, it will also slightly increase monthly premiums for patients and their employers.
But the savings from eliminating fees will be greater than increasing premiums, according to an analysis by the California Health Benefits Review Program.
The law, drafted by State Senator Lena Gonzalez, makes California the fourth state to ban fees, joining Illinois, New York and Oregon.
“As states across the country attempt to set us back by restricting basic reproductive rights, California continues to protect and advance reproductive freedom for all,” Newsom said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide this summer whether to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. At a public hearing into the case last year, a majority of justices indicated they were prepared to uphold the law and even overturn Roe v. Wade.
This case prompted swift action in state legislatures across the country. Last week, Idaho lawmakers sent a bill to the governor that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. In Missouri, lawmakers introduced a bill that would make it illegal for state residents to have abortions in other states.
States like California, however, are drafting proposals to counter these measures. They include bills to prohibit disclosure of abortion medical records to police or other non-state entities and to protect patients and providers from civil liability.
The measures would expand California’s abortion workforce, allowing some nurse practitioners to perform the procedure without the supervision of doctors and establishing a scholarship program for people studying reproductive health who agree to work. in underserved areas.
And they would set up funds that would help pay people who have abortions, including compensating providers who provide free care to low-income patients and helping with travel, accommodation and childcare. for women seeking an abortion in California.
“This legislative package is strong, bold, responsive and innovative, and it’s exactly what we need right now,” said Amy Moy, director of external affairs at Essential Access Health and steering committee member for the future of abortion. Advice.
She added, “We have a unique opportunity and a pressing responsibility to ensure that anyone seeking urgent and potentially changing abortion care within our state’s borders can do so with dignity, respect and safety.”
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