For Immediate Release: Thursday, August 26, 2021
Contact: media@prochoiceamerica.org

Today, two significant bills to advance reproductive justice and expand reproductive health and equity in California were put on hold in the Assembly Appropriations Committee

Sacramento Reproductive rights, freedom, and justice organizations are calling on the California Legislature to take urgent action to revive SB 245 (Abortion Accessibility Act, Gonzalez) and SB 523 (Contraceptive Equity Act of 2021, Leyva) after the measures were stalled and made into two-year bills in the Assembly Appropriations Committee today. The organizations co-sponsoring the bills aimed at expanding access to abortion and birth control statewide are calling for legislative leadership to do everything in their power to advance both measures in these last two weeks of session and ensure that California continues to lead the nation as a Reproductive Freedom State.

In response to SB 245 and SB 523 being stalled, the co-sponsors of both bills released the following joint statement:

“Birth control and abortion care are essential healthcare. Today’s action to pause the only two bills that would expand access to birth control and abortion care in the State this year is a shocking and unacceptable move that needs urgent remedy.

With the recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom underway, it is more important than ever to safeguard reproductive freedom in California. If these bills are not passed until next year, there is no guarantee that we will have a reproductive freedom champion in the Governor’s office who will sign these bills into law.

After four years of attacks on reproductive health and freedom, California is well positioned to once again lead the nation in advancing pro-active policy solutions to reduce unnecessary barriers that continue to delay and deny access to time-sensitive reproductive health services. Today’s action not only puts this progress at risk for Californians, but it could also have a ripple effect nationally during a time when the right to legal abortion has faced the worst year on record and is in unprecedented jeopardy at the U.S Supreme Court. 

The legislature must ensure these bills are passed this year. The time is now to advance health equity and continue California’s long history of protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care for all. In the face of political uncertainty and an ongoing pandemic, our leaders cannot wait to make this right.”

SB 245, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D- Long Beach), 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 the biggest barrier to abortion access—costs. 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 people of color, already forced to navigate a legacy of racist and discriminatory policies, are disproportionately harmed by such barriers to care. 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.

SB 523, authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), seeks to update California’s contraceptive coverage laws. If enacted, the measure will make contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing gender-inclusive, require coverage of over-the-counter birth control options and vasectomy services without cost-sharing, and expand contraceptive coverage benefits to millions of Californians, including state employees and individuals enrolled in university or college health plans. 

The bill also seeks to clearly prohibit employers from discriminating against their employees based on their contraceptive and reproductive health decisions. SB 523 is co-sponsored by Essential Access Health, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and the National Health Law Program.

To date, both SB 245 and SB 523 have enjoyed overwhelming support in the state legislature.

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