California governor signs privacy laws for abortion patients
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed two laws to protect the privacy of abortionists and their patients, declaring California a “state of reproductive freedom” unlike Texas and its efforts to limit the procedure.
Law criminalizes intimidating people within 30 meters of an abortion clinic – a law abortion rights groups consider the first of its kind in the country . The other law allows people on their parents’ insurance plans to keep sensitive medical information, including abortions, secret.
The new laws, coupled with Newsom’s comments, only heighten the political rivalry between the country’s two most populous states. California and Texas have become strongholds of their respective political ideologies, with each state taking opposing positions on issues such as health care, immigration, and the environment.
This rivalry has become sharper recently with a new Texas law. which prohibits abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant. The United States Supreme Court has ruled to let the law go into effect for now, banning most abortions in the state.
“These are dark days. I don’t think you can underestimate the consequent nature of the moment we live in, ”Newsom said. “It is becoming of disproportionate importance for California to assert itself.
It is already illegal in California to post personal information about abortion providers or their patients online. But that law hasn’t been updated since the mid-2000s, before the proliferation of smartphones with high-tech cameras that can quickly post to social media websites.
The new law drafted by state member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democrat from Orinda, makes it an offense to film someone without their consent for the purpose of intimidation. Violators can be punished for up to one year in a county jail, a fine of up to $ 10,000, or both.
The law also requires extensive training for local law enforcement agencies on how to enforce it.
“We are stepping up. We say that in California we will not allow our reproductive health care providers and patients to be subjected to threats both online and in person, ”said Bauer-Kahan.
The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal defense organization, opposed the bill. In a letter to lawmakers, the group said the violence is “outside the bounds of legitimate political discourse, no matter who commits it.”
“At the same time, heated debate should not be punished or stifled by simply re-qualifying it as intimidating or threatening, depending on the speaker’s point of view,” the group wrote.
Newsom also signed a law on Wednesday allowing people who still benefit from their parents’ health plan to keep their medical treatment a secret. Federal and state laws already provide privacy protections for people who are not the primary policyholder of a health insurance plan. But state assembly member David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco, said patients should ask for this confidentiality and the law has not been applied consistently.
This new law, drafted by Chiu, requires California insurance companies to automatically keep certain medical procedures confidential, including abortions. Chiu said the bill is important now because the federal Affordable Care Act allows people to stay in their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26.
“This breach of privacy has put them in a terrible and, in some cases, even dangerous position,” Chiu said. “If you receive sensitive health care services, only you should receive confidential communications about it. “
The bill has earned contempt from the California Family Council, which argued that the bill “seeks to take away from parents the protective role they have over their children.”