Sebastian Cahill, The Daily Californian
After a slew of bills aiming to decrease reproductive rights swept the nation post-Roe, members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus announced 17 bills aiming to safeguard reproductive rights across the country March 13 in a press conference.
The caucus partnered with the California Future of Abortion Council, or FAB Council, to create the legislation “package,” according to the press release. The caucus also released a similar package of bills in 2022, of which 14 out of 15 passed through the California legislature and became law, including Proposition 1.
“The FAB Council understood that the zealots on the Supreme Court were serious and would likely overturn a fifty year right that we Americans have had to our bodily autonomy — the right to an abortion,” State Sen. Nancy Skinner said during the conference. “By removing and overturning Roe vs. Wade … (there is) an avalanche of response by very narrow minded, and very often dogmatic, people that do not represent the population of our country.”
Sentiments repeated throughout the conference include implementation of data protections and providing privacy for individuals seeking abortions, whether they live in California or must travel to the state to receive care.
For example, one bill introduced by Skinner would make it illegal for bail agents or bounty hunters to apprehend people traveling to receive abortion care in California. Similarly, a bill introduced by state Assemblymember Mia Bonta aims to protect digital data for patients who access abortion services in California.
Bonta emphasized the importance of such bills at the press conference.
“(AB 793) eliminates the use of ‘reverse demands’ by law enforcement and government entities. Reverse demands, geo demands or keyword demands are a form of digital surveillance that pose an especially grave risk in a post-Roe America,” Bonta said during the conference. “They can compel companies in California to search their records and reveal the identities of all people who are looking at a particular keyword search, like ‘medical abortion.’ ”
Other bills in the package add the following: protections to existing standards in the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, requirements for education on reproductive and sexual health care in California schools, public information campaigns regarding abortion care, legal protection for medication abortions and gender affirming care and safeguards for abortion providers in supporting patients from states with “hostile abortion laws.”
Near the end of the conference, director of strategic partnerships and special projects for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California Zaire Bailey thanked the Caucus for their pioneering work in reproductive justice, for both patients and medical providers.
“Extremists continue to be steadfast in their efforts to ban and criminalize abortion nationwide,” Bailey said during the conference. “We thank Legislative Women’s Caucus for continuing to lead the charge in advancing reproductive freedom by expanding the state’s abortion provider network, reducing barriers to care and protecting abortion patients and providers.”