For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Sacramento — Today, the California state Senate Committee on Health voted to advance SB 379, the Equitable and Inclusive UC Healthcare Act, which ensures that University of California Health System (UC Health) providers and trainees are able to provide comprehensive healthcare, including reproductive and LGBTQ-inclusive care, at all facilities where UC providers practice. This vote follows last month’s vote by the California state Senate Committee on Education to advance SB 379. The bill is co-sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice California, Equality California, and ACLU California Action.
Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 379 in response to UC Health having entered into healthcare facility contracts that subject UC medical providers and students to harmful, non-medical restrictions that explicitly prevent them from providing comprehensive reproductive and gender-affirming care to patients in non-UC facilities. UC Health is the fourth largest health system in California, trains more than half of California’s medical students, and cares for millions of Californians.
In response to SB 379 advancing out of committee, bill cosponsors, NARAL Pro-Choice California, Equality California, and ACLU California Action released the following joint statement:
“California is now one vote closer to ensuring equitable access to the comprehensive and inclusive healthcare we all value and deserve. We applaud the members of the Senate Health Committee for advancing SB 379—a critical step toward ensuring that University of California medical providers and students are able to provide high-quality, patient-centered care free from unnecessary and harmful restrictions. As right-wing lawmakers in states across the country continue to attack reproductive freedom and transgender healthcare, we’re proud to be part of the effort to hold UC Health accountable to its principles to fully serve all the communities that depend on this public institution for the care they need.”
Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Los Angeles), chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, and Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, are principal co-authors of the bill. Senators Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), and Connie Leyva (D-Chino), and Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) are co-authors of this legislation. California law recognizes reproductive healthcare—including abortion—as basic healthcare, restricts public health entities from preferring one pregnancy outcome over another, and prohibits discrimination against transgender patients seeking gender-affirming care. Despite existing laws, people in California are still being denied these very critical healthcare services.
Despite public outcry from the University of California community; reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and health equity advocates; and both state and federal elected officials, UC has withdrawn from any public process for addressing these affiliations. A UC Regents vote that was scheduled on this issue has been canceled, and an internal working group’s recommendations have been publicly ignored. Up to this point, UC has displayed a concerning lack of transparency, leaving patients, advocates, and lawmakers in the dark about these contracts and what they mean for basic or urgent care. As reproductive health and LGBTQ-inclusive care continue to be restricted across the country, it is up to California legislators to lead by example.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters have fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom—including access to abortion, contraception, and paid family leave—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 7 in 10 Americans who believe every person should have the freedom to make the best decision for themselves about if, when, and how to raise a family.