Legislation aimed at protecting access to legal abortions in California -- co-authored by Tri-Valley Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) -- is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk, following approval by the State Senate on Thursday.
"Twenty-six million women nationwide are already facing near-total abortion bans, and the U.S. Supreme Court has abandoned its duty to ensure their equal rights," Bauer-Kahan said in a statement. "Extremist laws from anti-choice states are putting California and its providers in danger. AB 1666 creates a strong legal shield to ensure abortion care stays legal in our state."
Assembly Bill 1666, authored by Bauer-Kahan with Christina Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and Steve Bennett (D-Santa Barbara), proposes proactive legal protection for Californians' privacy regarding reproductive choices and access to abortion services, based on public policy in the state.
The bill comes in the wake of a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion in favor of overturning the court's previous 1973 decision on Roe v. Wade -- which held that access to abortion services and reproductive choice were a "fundamental right" -- and amidst legislation in other states aimed at reducing or eliminating legal abortions. The final decision was released by the Supreme Court on Friday morning, confirming its reversal of Roe v. Wade as indicated by the leaked draft.
"These precautions and protections are a key first step as California prepares for a post-Roe world, and unfortunately necessary given the increased hostility and frequency of abortion bans in other states seeking to target patients and providers," said Molly Robson, legislative director for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, in the announcement from Bauer-Kahan's office.
Under AB 1666, legal action regarding access to, assistance in, or provision of abortions would be deemed to violate the state's public policy, and would be unenforced by state courts. The bill is aimed specifically at protecting access to legal abortion services in the state in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned, with additional legislation from state lawmakers aimed at providing additional protections.
Bauer-Kahan's office forecasts that California could soon be the nearest state for an estimated 1.4 million people to access legal abortion services. AB 1666 includes an urgency clause that means it would go into effect as soon as it were approved by Newsom.