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California State Assembly Passes Bill To Make Abortions More Affordable

California's move stands in contrast to laws in Texas, Idaho and many other states making abortion services more restrictive

On Thursday, California lawmakers voted to make abortions more affordable for residents on private health insurance plans. 

Thursday’s vote is part of lawmakers’ strategy to make reproductive care more accessible, bringing California closer to becoming the fourth state to ban insurance fees for the procedure. Illinois, Oregon, and New York have all passed similar legislation.

California requires private health insurance plans to cover abortion services for its residents. However, insurance providers are allowed to charge co-pays and deductibles. 

According to a report by the California Health Benefits Review Program, the additional fees add an average of $543 to the cost of medication abortions and $887 to the cost of procedural abortions.

The Assembly approved Bill SB-245 to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for abortions on private health plans. 

If adopted, the bill would reduce the cost of abortions and increase monthly premiums for patients and their employers. However, savings realized by eliminating out-of-pocket costs for abortions would be more significant than increasing monthly premiums for residents.

The bill now heads for a procedural vote in the state Senate before heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for his review.

According to Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council, which opposes abortion, eliminating out-of-pocket costs provides an extra incentive for patients to seek abortions “beyond any other health care choice.”

“The real tragedy is in the state we now are really treating abortion like we treat no other health care services,” he said. “We do not see the Assembly today, for example, vote to make dialysis free. We did not see the Assembly vote to make insulin free.”

Other states are doing the same thing, including Washington, which passed a law prohibiting legal action against people seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

The passage of the bills in Washington and California stands in stark contracts to recent legislation limiting access to abortions in TexasIdaho, and other states. 

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on another landmark abortion case from Mississippi with a 15-week abortion ban. The case could overturn or significantly weaken Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that guaranteed the right to abortions nationwide.

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