California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a new law to make abortions cheaper for insured people through private insurance plans.
The law marks the first of more than a dozen bills in Newsom’s plan to pass this year in a lead-up for a potential U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
The Court is weighing whether to potentially overturn Roe vs. Wade, the groundbreaking 1973 ruling that banned all states from outlawing abortion.
If it is overturned, at least 26 states are likely to severely limit access to abortion or ban abortion outright, according to a policy and research organization that supports abortion rights, the Guttmacher Institute.
Women in those states would then potentially travel to other states to get abortions. Democratic-led states such as California plan to propose and pass new legislation to prepare for the predicted influx of women seeking abortions.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, recently signed a law banning any legal action taken against people who receive or aid an abortion. The measure is in response to the Texas law that allows people to sue providers of abortion or those who assist them.
Oregon lawmakers also included $15 million in the state budget to help pay for women traveling to the state to get abortions.
California’s bill is similar. It is one of the 14 proposals to protect and expand access to abortion in the most populous state in the U.S.
Newsom was inspired by a report from a group he convened last year to advise and recommend how to respond if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, the Future of Abortion Council.
According to chief executive and president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Jodi Hicks, “We’re looking at 26 states that will introduce some sort of ban and restriction on abortion, so you have the other half of the country that will need to prepare for how we take care of those patients.
“We’re all imagining and trying to prepare correctly for what that impact will be,” she said.
The state of California already requires all health insurance companies to cover abortions.
However, insurers often charge deductibles and co-pays that can add up to an average of $543 to abortion by medication and an average of $887 to the cost of a procedural abortion, according to the California Health Benefits Review Program.
In Newsom’s newly signed law, those fees are eliminated. According to an analysis by the California Health Benefits Review Program, the law will slightly increase the monthly cost of premiums for employers and patients while making abortions cheaper.
Senator Lena Gonzalez authored the law, making California the fourth state to ban the fees after New York, Oregon, and Illinois.
Newsome touted the new legislation saying, “As states across the country attempt to move us backwards by restricting fundamental reproductive rights, California continues to protect and advance reproductive freedom for all.”
SCOTUS rulings this summer
The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to decide this summer whether or not to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Last year during a public hearing on the case, a majority of justices indicated that they were willing to uphold Mississippi’s state law and even overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Swift actions in state legislatures across the U.S. followed the Mississippi case.
Missouri lawmakers introduced a bill that would make it illegal for residents to get abortions in other states. At the same time, Idaho legislators sent a bill to the governor to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
While some states jump to follow Mississippi’s lead, other states, including California, are drafting proposals and legislation to counter those moves. They include bills to protect providers and patients from civil liability and ban the disclosure of abortion medical records to the police or out-of-state entities.
The new measures would expand the state of California’s abortion workforce by permitting some nurse practitioners to perform abortions without doctors’ supervision and set up a scholarship program for reproductive health students who agree to work in underserved areas.
Additionally, they would help set up funds for individuals to get abortions, including lodging, childcare, travel, and compensating providers who provide free care to low-income patients seeking an abortion in California.
According to Amy Moy, chief external affairs officer for the Future of Abortion Council, “This legislative package is robust, it’s bold, it’s responsive, and it’s innovative, and that’s exactly what we need right now.”
“We have a unique opportunity and a pressing responsibility to make sure that anyone seeking time-sensitive and potentially life-changing abortion care within our state’s borders can do so with dignity and respect and safety.”