Skinner Announces Bill to Protect CA Medical Providers that Dispense Abortion or Gender-Affirming Care Regardless of Their Patient’s Location
State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, announced new legislation today that would provide legal protections for California health care providers that provide or dispense medication or other services for abortion, contraception or gender-affirming care, regardless of their patient’s geographic location.
“Medication abortion is widely used and proven to be safe and effective, but with more and more states criminalizing reproductive health care providers and patients, access to this FDA-approved treatment and other services is being further restricted every day. Contraception and medication for gender-affirming care are also under attack,” Sen. Skinner said. “Under SB 345, California health care practioners will be able to provide essential reproductive and gender-affirming care that is legal in California, regardless of their patient’s geographic location, knowing that California is doing everything it can to protect them against the draconian laws of other states.”
Under SB 345, for example, someone who has traveled to or resides in Texas could contact a California medical provider and be prescribed abortion medication or contraception. Similarly, a California-based pharmacy would be able to ship the medication to Texas, and both the health care provider and the pharmacy would receive protections, as long as they are in California, from criminal and civil actions initiated in Texas. The same would be true in the case of a person in Florida who contacts a California health care provider for gender-affirming care and a California pharmacy ships the medication.
Other states, such as Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Vermont are proposing or passing similar laws that expand the ability of medical providers to provide care to patients, regardless of the patient’s location.
“As a physician, I believe everyone deserves the care they need, regardless of where they live. Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, patients are being forced to travel long distances — often over 500 miles — to access abortion care in a clinic. Offering medication abortion, which has been shown to be safe and effective, would make it more convenient and accessible to more people,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, UC San Francisco. “By providing additional legal protections, this bill would allow California clinicians to help patients in other states who need medication abortion care.”
SB 345 is sponsored by a coalition of reproductive justice organizations, including Black Women for Wellness Action Project, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and ACCESS Reproductive Justice. The bill is also supported by the California Nurse-Midwives Association; the Center for Reproductive Rights; Equality California; Essential Health Access, Los Angeles; and Gender Spectrum.
Since the anti-abortion majority of the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, 13 states have instituted abortion bans. In addition, the Guttmacher Institute recently projected that at least 11 additional states will soon adopt abortion bans. The bans have also outlawed the dispensing of abortion medication.
In addition, the major national pharmacy chain Walgreens recently said it would end the distribution of abortion medication not only in states where it is now illegal, but also in some states where it remains lawful, following a pressure campaign by anti-abortion attorneys general in those states.
Moreover, there is widespread concern among reproductive rights advocates that a federal judge in Texas may soon order an FDA-approved abortion medication to be pulled off the market nationwide.
SB 345 would expand California’s landmark protections in both reproductive health care and gender-affirming care by allowing California health care providers to:
- Prescribe and dispense medications for abortion and contraception that are safe to patients regardless of where the patient is located
- Provide gender-affirming care and deliver that care regardless of where the patient is located
- Bring suit in California against anyone who interferes with the health care provider’s right to provide care that is legal in California.
SB 345 would also prohibit any state or local official or contractor from co-operating with any out-of- state investigation into health care that is legally protected in California, including reproductive and gender-affirming care. It would also prevent the extradition of anyone who is in California for receiving or providing legally protected care if the care was initiated in California.
“Since Roe was overturned last year, California has significantly strengthened and expanded access to reproductive health care and abortion services. But as the assault on essential health care accelerates, there is more to do. SB 345 will further protect our health care providers who are extending a lifeline to their patients who may be in a state where medically safe and effective treatments are now illegal,” Sen. Skinner added.
Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District and is chair of the Senate Budget Committee and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.