Updated Jun 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

California enacts bill to "shield" abortion providers and patients from state bans

Picture of people holding signs in support of abortion rights
Photo: Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Friday signed into law a bill to protect abortion providers and patients from bans, lawsuits and penalties in other states.

Driving the news: The measure is in response to laws like those in Texas and Oklahoma, which ban most abortions at early points in the pregnancy and encourage private citizens to sue those believed to be involved in obtaining an abortion.

  • It also comes following the Supreme Court's ruling overturning on Roe v. Wade.
  • The bill explicitly says that other state abortion laws enforced by civil action are "contrary to the public policy" of California.
  • The bill takes affect immediately.

Details: AB 1666 bars California state courts from hearing legal cases that were filed under other states' bans and "would prohibit the enforcement or satisfaction of a civil judgment received under that law."

  • "It puts up a legal shield for our doctors, providers and patients against attacks from the radical-right extremists who seek to strip women of their fundamental right," said California state Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, who introduced the bill.

What he's saying: "We will not cooperate with any states that attempt to prosecute women or doctors for receiving or providing reproductive care," Newsom said in a tweet.

Between the lines: Without Roe, the number of women traveling from other states to California for abortion care is expected to increase from 46,000 to 1.4 million, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

  • As a result, state officials want to protect California providers who give care to patients coming from red states that might potentially look to prosecute them, said Molly Robson, legislative director for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.
  • Newsom, along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), launched a "West Coast offense" to protect reproductive rights in their states now that Roe is gone.

Catch up fast: California's bill follows a similar one enacted in Connecticut, which also prohibits state courts from enforcing a different state’s penalties against someone who has provided an abortion that is considered legal in the state.

  • New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in mid-June signed into law several protective abortion measures, including three that are meant to protect providers and patients from bans in other states.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in March signed into law a bill that says that no state resident can "penalize, prosecute, or otherwise take adverse action" against a pregnant person, a provider or anyone who is "aiding or assisting" someone getting an abortion.

The big picture: Blue states are moving to protect abortion rights as red states continue to enact restrictive laws.

What we're watching: State lawmakers in New Jersey, where abortion rights are also protected under the law, have introduced legislation in response to civil lawsuit-enforced bans.

  • One of the bills being introduced in New Jersey would prohibit "extradition of an individual to another state if conduct relates to reproductive health services and is legal" in the state, said the bill's author, state Sen. Nia Gill (D).

Don't forget: California is already one of the 16 states that have codified abortion rights into their state laws.

Go deeper: Where abortion access is guaranteed without Roe v. Wade

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