california abortion sanctuary

Abortion, perhaps more than most other issues, has divided the United States for decades. A new decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 48-year-old decision that forbids states from outlawing abortion, would be the product of more than 40 years of tireless conservative activism. The change could come as early as next summer. We are now seeing how some Democratic states plan to respond. California clinics and their allies in the state Legislature have revealed a plan to make the state a “sanctuary” for those seeking abortions. The California Future of Abortion Council, made up of more than 40 abortion providers and advocacy groups, released a list of 45 recommendations for the state to consider if the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. These plans include things like paying for travel and procedures for patients from other states.

Who Wrote California’s Plans for Roe V. Wade Overturn? 

Some state lawmakers have helped write California’s plans for the event of Roe v. Wade being overturned. Toni Atkins, the San Diego Democrat who leads the state Senate, is one of the contributors. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom started the group himself. “We’ll be a sanctuary,” Newsom said, adding he’s aware patients will likely travel to California from other states to seek abortions. “We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections.” California already pays for abortions for many low-income residents through the state’s Medicaid program. California is one of six states that require private insurance companies to cover abortions, although many patients still end up paying deductibles and co-payments. These same rules will likely apply to out of state patients. 

california abortion friendly

California Plans to Cover Abortions for Out of State Patients 

California plans to perform state-funded abortion services for patients from other states. California’s financial resources have soared throughout the pandemic, fueling a record budget surplus this year. Next year, California’s independent Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts California will have a surplus of about $31 billion. These are the funds they plan to use for abortions for out of state patients. California’s Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, got a sneak preview of how people might seek abortions outside of their home states when a Texas law outlawing abortion after six weeks of pregnancy was allowed to take effect. California clinics reported a small increase in patients from Texas. It’s unclear exactly how many people will come to California for abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned, we can guess… a lot. The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, said 132,680 abortions were performed in California in 2017, or about 15% of all abortions nationally. That number includes people from out of state as well as teenagers, who are not required to have their parents’ permission for an abortion in California. Planned Parenthood, which accounts for about half of California’s abortion clinics, said it served 7,000 people from other states last year. Now, California abortion providers are asking California to make it easier for those people to get to the state. 

What Will California Cover for Out of State Patients?

The plans recommend using funding to help patients seeking abortions for travel expenses such as gas, lodging, transportation and child care. The plans ask lawmakers to reimburse abortion providers for services when patients can’t afford to pay, including out of state patients who have an income low enough to qualify for state-funded abortions under Medicaid if they were to live there. However, as stated earlier, all of these conditions could cause a huge influx of people. This large amount of people coming in from other states “will definitely destabilize the abortion provider network,” said Fabiola Carrion, interim director for reproductive and sexual health at the national Health Law Program. She said out-of-state abortions would also likely be later term procedures, which are more complicated and expensive. While California’s plans call for actions to ease this inevitable complication, will their solution actually help?

Scholarships for Medical Students Who Pledge for Abortion

abortion sanctuary in california

The plans ask California lawmakers to help clinics increase their workforce by giving scholarships to medical students who pledge to offer abortion services in rural areas. “We’re looking at how to build capacity and build workforce,” said Jodi Hicks, CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “It will take a partnership and investment with the state.” Abortion opponents in California are also preparing for a potential surge of out of state patients seeking abortions, only they hope to convince them not to do it. Jonathan Keller, president and CEO of the California Family Council, said California has about 160 pregnancy resource centers designed convince women not to get abortions and provide a resource during the pregnancy. He said about half of those centers are medical clinics, while the rest are faith-based counseling centers.

Clinics Against Abortion in California 

Many of the centers are located near abortion clinics to entice patients to seek their counseling before opting to end pregnancies. Keller said many centers are already planning on increasing their staffing if California begins to get an increase of patients.“Even if we are not facing any immediate legislative opportunities or legislative victories, it’s a reminder that the work of changing hearts and minds and also providing real support and resources to women facing unplanned pregnancies… that work will always continue,” Keller said. “In many ways, that work is going to be even more important, both in light of the Supreme Court’s decision and in light of whatever Sacramento decides they are going to do in response.”

Do you believe California should become a sanctuary for abortion services? Should California be performing state funded abortions for out of state patients? Will this inevitable influx of medical students to the abortion sector cause even more shortages in the medical field? If more students end up in the abortion sector, what will happen to traditional clinics and offices? 

Written by: Erinn Malloy

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