For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Contact: media@prochoiceamerica.org

Abortion Accessibility Act Would Require all State-Licensed Commercial Health Plans and Insurers to Cover Abortion Care Without Cost-sharing

Sacramento Reproductive rights, freedom, and justice organizations applaud the passage of SB 245, introduced by State Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D- Long Beach), off the state senate floor yesterday. SB 245, the Abortion Accessibility Act, prohibits California-licensed health plans and insurers from applying patient cost-sharing (including deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance) to abortion and abortion-related services. By eliminating cost-sharing for abortion services, SB 245 would help remove one of the biggest barriers to abortion access—cost.

Pregnant individuals in California still struggle to overcome barriers when accessing abortion, whether that’s lack of time, the distance they have to travel, difficulty finding childcare, trouble getting an appointment with a provider, or the sheer cost. Additionally, people with low incomes and Black and Brown people, already forced to navigate a legacy of racist and discriminatory policies, are disproportionately harmed by such barriers to care.

“The longer it takes someone to come up with the money they need for an abortion, the higher the cost becomes. For too long, pregnant people of color, LGBTQ people, and people with lower incomes have been disproportionately harmed by financial barriers to abortion care,” said Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice California. “When these barriers make abortion care inaccessible for so many, it means there is no true freedom to decide. Thank you to Senator Gonzalez and the reproductive freedom champions in the California Senate for taking a step to end this cycle and get people the care they need.”

“At ACCESS, we hear from callers every week who face challenges in accessing the abortion care they need because of all kinds of barriers, including cost-sharing. Financial barriers further exacerbate already existing racial and socio-economic health disparities. Any barrier to accessing care precludes individuals from having full autonomy in and dignity over their decision making,” said Jessica Pinckney, Executive Director of ACCESS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE. “SB 245 is one step in the many necessary to make abortion truly accessible across the state of California. We are thrilled to be in partnership with Senator Gonzalez and Reproductive Justice allies across the state as we work, collectively, to make Reproductive Justice a reality for every individual.”

“Real, tangible access to abortions goes beyond just the legal right to an abortion, we know that they are many barriers to care including cost. SB 245 moves us one step closer to all birthing people having access to full reproductive and sexual health regardless of income. We applaud Sen. Gonzalez for being a champion for birthing people across California,” said Nourbese Flint, Executive Director of Black Women for Wellness Action Project

“The National Health Law Program is a proud sponsor of SB 245 because we want to ensure that all Californians have access to abortion services and that cost is never a barrier to care,” said Fabiola Carrión, Senior Attorney at the National Health Law Program. “As 2021 has introduced unprecedented challenges to abortion access at the Supreme Court and in other states, California once again steps up as the national beacon of hope on reproductive freedom.”

“At Planned Parenthood, we know abortion is an integral part of the full spectrum of health care, and are fortunate California has laws on the books protecting the legal right to it. But for too many people, abortion still remains a right in name only—where access still largely depends on someone’s income, race, and ZIP code,” said Jodi Hicks, CEO & President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “And whether someone has private or government-funded health insurance, everyone should have full coverage for the range of pregnancy-related care, including abortion.”

California is one of six states that require health insurance plans to cover abortion, but Californians enrolled in commercial health plans must still make hefty co-payments or deductibles to receive care that can range from $40 to thousands of dollars; these are cost-prohibitive for low- and middle-income families. On average, the out-of-pocket cost for an abortion is $543, which rises significantly later in pregnancy.

Now more than ever, as Californians struggle through the COVID-19 public health crisis, subsequent economic repercussions, and systemic inequities, people should have affordable and time-sensitive access to healthcare, including abortion.

SB 245 is co-sponsored by ACCESS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, NARAL Pro-Choice California, the National Health Law Program, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

The co-sponsors of the bill thank the 31 Senators who voted in favor of the bill. The bill now moves to the Assembly.

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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. 

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