One of the 105 California Democrats introduced last week would protect medical providers who mail abortion pills and transgender-related medications to other states.
The bill, SB 345, would allow California healthcare providers to prescribe and dispense medications for abortion, contraception, and “gender-affirming care,” regardless of where the patient is located, and would allow healthcare providers to bring a lawsuit in California against anyone who “interferes” with their ability to do so.
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 abortions and transgender-related treatments and procedures. It would additionally prevent the extradition of anyone who is in California for receiving or providing abortions and transgender-related treatments and procedures if the care was initiated in California, according to State Sen. Nancy Skinner, who introduced the bill.
“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,” Skinner said in a statement on Friday. “Under SB 345, California health care practioners [sic] 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.”
“Since Roe was overturned last year, California has significantly strengthened and expanded access to reproductive health care and abortion services,” Skinner added. “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.”
As an example, under the bill, someone who has traveled to or resides in Texas could contact a California medical provider and be prescribed abortion pills or birth control, according to Skinner’s office.
“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,” her office continued. “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.”
Skinner’s office noted that other states, including 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.”
The bill is the product of 105 from the California Future of Abortion Council (CA FAB Council), which is comprised of several pro-abortion organizations. The council created a 45-policy abortion wish-list in 2021, and is partnering with the California Women’s Legislative Caucus, chaired by Skinner, for the second year in a row to make California an “abortion haven.”
Skinner’s Office confirmed that the bill is sponsored by 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.
Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center — a group that opposes abortion — said the legislation would “upend our federal system altogether.” Idaho notably outlaws most abortions, including medication abortions.
“The arrogance of such a proposal is astounding,” Conzatti told PBS News Hour. “It flaunts the traditional relationship between states and would upend our federal system altogether.”
The introduction of SB 345 comes as lawmakers in some states with pro-life laws introduce warring legislation aimed at stopping abortion pill trafficking. For example, Texas State Rep. Cole Hefner (R) introduced legislation on March 10 which would remove legal immunity from out-of-state chemical abortion providers and manufacturers in the case of a wrongful death of a patient, which could be a pregnant mother or her unborn baby.
“We have enacted transformative pro-life laws in Texas, but more must be done,” Hefner said. “The deadly abortion pill regimen is everywhere, including in our state. Companies and smuggling networks are profiting from the barbaric death of children in the womb and neglecting the women who are harmed by taking these pills.
“…They must not be allowed to escape their direct responsibility for the wrongful deaths of Texans simply because they reside outside our state, and this legislation ensures that will not be allowed to happen,” he continued.