In what the media calls California’s response to Texas’ new pro-life law, Governor Newsom passed two laws on Wednesday, Sept. 22, to protect the privacy of abortions, both for those who have the procedure and those who provide the service.
California Assembly Bill 1184 prohibits prepaid or health insurers from sharing the personal information of people under the age of 26 who undergo abortions and other “sensitive” procedures such as “sex change” treatments.
David Chiu, the Democratic assemblyman who sponsored the bill, said:
“The reason we needed it is at this time when a patient is on someone else’s health insurance, such as a parent or a spouse, there has unfortunately been a real risk that insurers send communications about sensitive health services such as reproductive care, gender affirming care, substance abuse care, mental health care to the policyholder, instead of the patient.”
The law drew criticism from California’s conservatives, who expressed disapproval of the state allowing minors to hide such a delicate medical treatment from the parents.
According to Fox News, Jonathan Keller, president of the Family Council of California, said the bill should have distinguished between a 25-year-old on a parent’s health plan and a 12-year-old.
“Parents should be consulted before their minor children are given life-altering medical treatment,” Keller said. “It’s deeply concerning that the Legislature and the governor continue to usurp parental authority.”
California Assembly Bill 1356 makes it a felony to publish the home address or phone number of abortion providers and establishes fines of up to $50,000 in the case of property damage and up to one year in prison for violators.
It was already banned to publish information about abortion providers in California, but before 1356, it was a misdemeanor with six months in prison, and the maximum fine was $2500.
The law also makes it a felony to film or photograph abortion patients or providers within 100 feet of the clinic entrance.
“California has been a leader in protecting access to sexual and reproductive rights, but as we’ve seen recently with unprecedented attacks on these rights, we can and must do more,” Newsom said in a statement from his office. “I’m proud today to sign these two bills that demonstrate our dedication to strengthening and further protecting access to reproductive health care services in California.”
The two new pieces of legislation and the statements by Newsom, who just survived a recall attempt on Sept. 14, would appear to be California’s response—one of the largest and most densely populated liberal states— to Texas’ new heartbeat law, which bans abortions after six weeks gestation.
Texas on Tuesday added further restrictions on abortions in the state, banning the sale of abortion pills past seven weeks gestation.
With Texas as an example, many states run by conservative Republicans have expressed their intention to pass similar laws after previous attempts of doing so were blocked by federal judges.
There is also a great expectation for the Supreme Court’s announcement that in December it will review a Mississippi state case challenging the Roe v. Wade ruling which legalized abortion in the United States in 1973 and given the Court’s conservative majority, it may well be that one of the possible outcomes will be to reverse the legality of the procedure.