California law protects abortion providers from liability

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Friday that would immediately shield abortion providers in California from liability if they serve patients traveling from areas where the procedure is now banned or access restricted.

Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan’s (D-Orinda) Assembly Bill 1666 will protect California providers and patients from civil liability judgments based on claims in anti-abortion states. It further cements the state’s efforts to be a “beacon of hope” after the US Supreme Court overthrew Roe vs. Wade.

Newsom said the law will crack down on Republican states that allow private lawsuits against abortion providers and patients. Last year, Texas passed legislation allowing individuals to sue anyone who “supports or encourages” an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.

“We will in no way shape or shape, support, enable, investigate, or fund any of these activities or energies,” Newsom said, adding that the new law is part of a larger package of more than a dozen bills aimed at “true sanctuary” for those seeking or performing abortions in the state.

California has been bracing for months for the likelihood that thousands of people would travel to the state from areas of the country where bans have been in effect for the first time since 1973. Various bills and budget proposals are in the works that would require the setting of millions apart from abortion services for the uninsured, staffing programs to increase the number of providers, and to assist patients with travel expenses from other states.

The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for reproductive health and abortion rights, said 26 states will ban all or nearly all abortions after the landmark case is overturned.

UCLA’s Center on Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy released a report this month estimating that 8,000 to 16,000 more people will travel to California for abortions each year. That includes up to 9,400 other anti-abortion people seeking help in Los Angeles County alone, according to the report.

California law grants everyone of childbearing age “the fundamental right to choose to have a child or to choose and have an abortion.” This includes minors who, under state law, can consent to an abortion without their parents’ knowledge.

The state allows a woman to have an abortion up to the point where a doctor determines that “there is a reasonable probability that the fetus will survive outside the womb without the use of extraordinary medical procedures” or if the procedure is necessary to “protect” life or woman’s health.”

State law does not determine the precise point in a pregnancy at which viability occurs, but allows a physician to make that determination based on “good faith medical judgment.” In most cases, doctors have considered a fetus viable at 24 weeks.

California Atty. General Rob Bonta said the state will ensure patients get the reproductive care they need, regardless of where they live.

“You have the right to an abortion here,” Bonta said. “You have the right to an abortion before profitability without reason. You have the right to an abortion to protect your life or your health. You have the right to an abortion without parental consent. I will not shrink from defending these rights, expanding them and keeping our clinics accessible and safe because in California we refuse to turn back the clock and let radical ideologies take control of your body.” California law protects abortion providers from liability

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