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College Student Right to Access Act (SB 24, Leyva)

The College Student Right to Access Act would expand abortion care at California’s public universities by requiring that the UC and CSU offer the abortion pill at campus health centers. This bill reaffirms the constitutional right of all Californians to access abortion care and guarantees that college students do not have to endure the added financial, logistical, and emotional burden of seeking standard reproductive healthcare off-campus.

The bill’s reintroduction comes after Governor Brown’s insensitive and out of touch veto of the bill last year, despite overwhelming support in the State Legislature and among the public. A survey conducted by Change Research on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice California revealed 60 percent of likely California voters, and 72 percent of women, say students should be able to access the abortion pill on campus.

The bill is sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice California, ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, ACLU of California, ACT for Women and Girls, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Students United for Reproductive Justice, and the Women’s Policy Institute/Women’s Foundation of California.

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California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act (SB 464, Mitchell)

The California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act (SB 464), authored by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) would require all perinatal healthcare providers, including physicians, nurses, midwives and frontline personnel, to participate in an implicit bias training designed to curtail the impact of bias on maternal health, and improve California data collection to better track and understand pregnancy-related deaths.

Access to prenatal care, socioeconomic status, or physical health does not fully explain the disparity seen in Black women maternal mortality and morbidity rates. A 2016 study by University of Virginia researchers found that white medical students believed biological myths about racial differences in patients, including that Black patients have less sensitive nerve endings, are able to tolerate more pain, and have thicker skin than their white counterparts. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth than the average Californian. According to a 2018 report released by the California Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review Board, Black women made up 5% of the birth cohort in California, but 21% of pregnancy-related deaths. The same report showed that 41% of all California pregnancy deaths had a good to strong chance of preventability. There is a growing body of evidence that Black women are often treated unfairly and unequally in the healthcare system.

The bill is sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice California, Black Women for Wellness, ACT for Women and Girls, and Western Center on Law and Poverty. 


Family Leave for a 21st Century (SB 135, Jackson)

Senate Bill 135 authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson will ensure that nearly all Californians who pay into the Paid Family Leave Program can use it without losing their jobs; that more newborns can receive individual care for their first six months of life, an essential time for early brain development; and that California’s leave laws reflect the state’s diverse, multigenerational families and caregiving needs.

Fifteen years ago, California enacted the nation’s first Paid Family Leave Program; however, there is no job protection directly associated with the Paid Family Leave Program, leaving far too many Californians struggling with the impossible choice of whether to care for their newborn or loved one or jeopardize their job and economic security. The gap between the State’s Paid Family Leave program and job-protection laws disproportionately affects low-wage workers, who are at the highest risk for losing their job when needing to access leave.

SB 135 will also align and expand the definition of family members in the state’s leave laws to reflect the diverse caregiving needs and families in California. Overall, as it is currently structured, Paid Family Leave largely operates to support better-off two-parent families, even though in California, a large share of infants are born to unmarried mothers. From 2000 to 2013, births to unmarried women accounted for 35% to 40% of all births. By allowing more family members to bond with a new child, SB 135 will help ensure all California’s children will have someone there for those critical few months after birth.

SB 135 will also allow more workers to access the leave by improving job protection, which is especially important for vulnerable workers who are paying for the program. California’s family leave remains out of reach for many working residents who pay into it. Because of laws which limit job protection by the size of employer and a narrow list of family members, many employees cannot use the program they pay into for fear of losing their jobs if they do.

This bill will give newborns a greater chance to receive their strongest developmental start, while ensuring our leave laws reflect the reality of California’s working families today. It will simplify and strengthen the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the California law which provides 12 weeks of job-protected leave for caregiving and serves as the job-protection foundation for California’s landmark Paid Family Leave Program.

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