Sent. Toni Atkins meets with Gov. Gavin Newsom
Sen. Toni Atkins in a meeting with Gov. Gavin Newsom. Courtesy of Atkins’ office

Gov. Gavin Newsom will Tuesday have the opportunity to sign a bill sponsored by San Diego’s Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, which would strengthen protections for health care providers in the state who provide both abortion services and gender-affirming services.

“Since the fall of Roe v Wade, California has stepped up to provide reproductive and gender-affirming care to the increasing number of patients coming here from states that have cut access to these essential medical services,” Atkins said. “This bill is about protecting access by protecting the providers, and ensures that they can continue to provide critical reproductive care here, where it is legal and enshrined in our state constitution.”

Senate Bill 487, which passed the Senate 31-8 on a concurrence vote on Monday, headed to Newsom’s desk Tuesday. The bill had technical amendments added in the Assembly intended to ensure that a health insurer, Medi-Cal or health care service plan cannot penalize a licensed California health care provider who performs abortion or gender-affirming care services.

Additionally, the bill would prohibit insurers from discriminating or refusing to contract with a provider sanctioned in another state for providing care that is legal in California but illegal in another state.

Atkins cited a recent study from the Guttmacher Institute showing a sharp increase in estimated abortions performed during the first six months of 2023 in states that have protections for access to abortion. California had the second largest increase in abortions performed in brick-and-mortar health facilities and medication abortions provided over Telehealth or virtual providers, a statement from Atkins’ office read.

SB 487 is one of two reproductive access bills Pro Tem Atkins authored this year, both of which now have been passed by the Legislature. Her other bill, SB 385, would expand and modernize reproductive care training for physician assistants, increasing and reinforcing the abortion provider workforce in California.

“As a director of clinical services for a women’s reproductive health clinic in the 1990s, she learned firsthand how essential access to safe healthcare is for women and people of all ages, and has been a fierce champion of protecting and expanding access reproductive rights and services,” the statement from Atkins’ office read.

Last year, Atkins authored SCA 10, the constitutional amendment that created Proposition 1, which enshrined the right to abortion and contraceptives in the California Constitution.

— City News Service