California’s State Legislature recently introduced laws that would fund abortions for individuals traveling from other states where abortion is not accessible or has been banned.
Senate Bill 1142, introduced in March, is positioned as a response to the potential ruling by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which guaranteed nationwide access to safe and legal abortions. The bill states, “If the United States Supreme Court overturns the protections under Roe v. Wade, people in over one-half of the states in the country, over 36,000,000 women and other people who may become pregnant, will lose access to abortion care.”
The bill is, as stated, focused on “building upon existing protections to the right to abortion and implementing innovative and bold programs and policies to truly be a reproductive freedom state.”
The bill goes beyond simply providing long-term legal access to abortion services in California. The bill moves to provide funding for those individuals who are not residents but are seeking abortion services from local providers.
According to the bill, “For decades, abortion funds, abortion providers, and other community-based organizations have provided direct and indirect support to callers and patients with logistical and practical support needs. These funds assist patients seeking abortion services within California, patients traveling to California, and when patients need to travel outside of California for care.”
However, the bill works to provide financial support for more than just the abortion procedure. In the bill, there is a provision for “practical support services, such as airfare, lodging, ground transportation, gas money, meals, dependent childcare, doula support, and translation services, to help a person access and obtain an abortion.”
The financing of the services is done through a special financial fund set up in the bill called “The Abortion Practical Support Fund.” The state funds in this initiative are administered by the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, which will determine who receives the benefits.
The recipients of those funds will be organizations such as Planned Parenthood and other abortion service providers in the state. Those recipients may then utilize the funds to provide abortion services and related care to individuals who travel to California to obtain an abortion.
The fund is also available to cover training costs for volunteers, administrative staff, and research costs associated with providing abortion services.
SB 1142 also directs the creation of an “Abortion Information Webpage.” The site will provide comprehensive information regarding access to abortion services in California, to provide patients a single place to connect with the nearest and most accessible provider, obtain coverage or financial support for care, and get logistical assistance and resources for travel, lodging, or other related needs.
Following Monday’s leak of the potential ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 landmark ruling, Roe vs. Wade, Governor Newsom vowed to make California a haven for abortion rights.
In a post on Twitter, he said he would “fight like hell” to protect reproductive rights within the state.
Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will not be silenced.
The world is about to hear their fury.
California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell. https://t.co/EhwSWXiZhx
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 3, 2022
State Senator Melissa Melendez, who represents California’s 28th district, told Timcast there is a “one hundred percent” chance that this legislation will be passed.
“I am not in favor of that, as you can imagine,” she said. “I think it’s completely insane to suggest that taxpayers should pay for that sort of thing, but that’s what they’re planning on doing.”
Moreover, Melendez claims that there’s no specific plan to provide funding for or implement the legislation.
“In the health committee, where I heard this bill a few weeks ago, I asked them several questions about how this is going to work, none of which they can answer,” she said. “So they don’t even know how it’s going to work. They just want to hurry up and state that they were going to do this and pay for women’s abortions, even though they have no idea how they’re going to do it other than taxpayers are going to pay for it.”
Aside from the committee’s indication that “private donations” would fund abortions for women who visit California from out-of-state, Melendez said, “It was just a big mess. I was completely dissatisfied with [the committee] being completely unprepared to answer basic questions about the legislation.”