For Immediate Release: Friday, May 21, 2021
Sacramento — Yesterday, the Equitable and Inclusive UC Healthcare Act (SB 379), was paused in the California Legislature. The bill 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.
State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 379 in response to UC Health entering 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 being made into a two-year bill, cosponsors NARAL Pro-Choice California, Equality California, and ACLU California Action released the following joint statement:
“While we are disappointed that SB 379 has been put on pause in the Legislature, we remain committed to its passage next year, and our efforts to hold UC Health accountable for providing equitable and inclusive healthcare continue.
“UC Health repeatedly misled lawmakers about the devastating impacts that non-medical restrictions have on care, as they have done with the UC Regents for years. Forcing UC patients to transfer to other facilities to get the care they seek unnecessarily creates serious health risks and is a form of discrimination. Healthcare delayed is healthcare denied.
“This fight is far from over. While the courts and California Attorney General continue to investigate hospitals that restrict services for non-medical reasons, the UC Regents have the opportunity to fix this issue, once and for all.
“We urge the UC Regents — in following the leadership of Senator Scott Wiener, Chair John A. Pérez, and thousands of UC community members and Californians who have spoken out against these policies — to put an end to restrictive contracts that endanger patients and fly in the face of UC values. If the University of California does not address their failure to provide comprehensive care, we will continue to advance SB 379 next year.”
Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Los Angeles), chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus; and 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. It 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.
Even with 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.
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.