California Enacts Law Lowering Abortion Costs

Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into state law on Tuesday that makes abortions more affordable under private health insurance plans. It is one of a group of bills the overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature is considering in anticipation of the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade by early summer.

The new law prohibits health insurers from charging co-payments, deductibles, or other cost-sharing measures for all abortions and related services in the state. Newsom said in a statement that as other American states “attempt to move us backward” by enacting pro-life laws, California will “protect and advance reproductive freedom.” He added that the bill helps to ensure that out-of-pocket costs will not “stand in the way” of obtaining elective abortions.

California “First Partner” Jennifer Siebel Newsom also issued a statement, saying that California will continue to ensure that “all women and pregnant people” have the “ability to control their own destinies.”

Other bills being considered are highly expansive of abortion services, and Newsom is virtually certain to sign any of them into law that are passed by the legislature. Proposed bills include a ban on disclosing abortion records to police or any out-of-state entities and liability shields against civil liability for abortion providers or patients.

There is also a proposal to allow nurse practitioners to perform abortions with the supervision of a physician and another to establish a state scholarship program for persons who want to study “reproductive health” in the state and agree to work in underserved communities.

New funding proposals would help pay people to obtain abortions by directly compensating providers assisting low-income patients and paying for travel, lodging, and child care for mothers seeking abortions.

California established a “Future of Abortion Council” in December shortly after the oral arguments before the Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is the case directly challenging Roe v. Wade.

Amy Moy is a member of the Future of Abortion Council who works for an abortion provider and said that the legislative package in California is “bold, responsive, and innovative.” She added that it is “exactly what we need right now.” She said that California has a “pressing responsibility” to make sure that anyone who wants an abortion can get one “with dignity and respect and safety.”