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Current State of Reproductive Freedom & Legislative Priorities

TO: Interested Parties FROM: California Future of Abortion Council Steering Committee (ACCESS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Essential Health Access, NARAL Pro-Choice California, National Health Law Program, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Training in Early Abortion for Comprehensive Healthcare [TEACH]) DATE: January 5, 2022 RE: Current State of Reproductive Freedom & Legislative Priorities that Build on California’s “Reproductive Freedom State” Status

As the 2022 California Legislative Session begins, the California Future of Abortion Council (CA FAB Council) releases this memo and checklist for California leaders and policymakers who seek to take action to expand and protect access to equitable abortion services and related sexual and reproductive health care in the state of California.

The actions summarized in the checklist, based on the recommendations from the blueprint released by the CA FAB Council last month, are meant to serve as both a guide and measure of completion as bills are introduced and budget proposals are put forward. View the “Access to Abortion” check list here.

The checklist breaks down the CA FAB Council’s 45 recommendations by type of action—Budget, Administrative, Legislative, and Research:

  • Budget: Calling for increased funding to support the provision of abortion in California and calls for funding to support the organizations who provide services, practical support, and training.

  • Administrative: Calling on California agencies and the Administration to make permanent changes to improve the provision of abortion and amend the policies that hinder the provision of care.

  • Legislative: Making statutory changes to improve access to abortion care, support abortion providers, and address gaps in the health care system.

  • Research: Improving long term abortion access in California through research, assessment and publication of reports related to the status of California’s sexual and reproductive health care ecosystem (or infrastructure). We call on California policymakers to support the necessary research to inform improved, equitable access to care.

This checklist will also serve as a reminder of what must be accomplished for California and its reproductive health, rights, freedom, and justice partners network to continue to serve those who seek care in California effectively and efficiently, as the threat to abortion rights and access continues to grow.

WHY ACTION IS NEEDED

According to a Guttmacher Institute report, 2021 was the worst year for abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. In fact, more than 100 abortion restrictions were enacted in 19 states, including 12 bans on abortion. Another report by the Guttmacher Institute shows that, if there was a total ban on abortion in the 26 states that are expected to ban abortion should Roe v. Wade fall, the number of out-of-state women of reproductive age who would find their next nearest clinic in California would increase from 46,000 to 1.4 million, with 1.3 million of these women residing in Arizona. (note: the term “women” is being used in this instance to align with the data used in the report)

Given the restrictions on abortion in other states, like Texas, and ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court announcing its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the case directly challenging the nearly 50 years of precedent and constitutional right to abortion established under Roe v. Wade—California cannot wait to address existing barriers to care or delay preparation for additional patients likely to seek care in California.

It is imperative that California’s leaders: the Governor, Legislative leaders, the Attorney General as well as elected and appointed officials at all levels, take extensive action to make sure California continues to be a ‘Reproductive Freedom State.’ Read more about what local leaders have done and could do here.

STRONG SUPPORT FOR ACTION

Polling released last month found voters in California are paying very close attention to the potential loss of the constitutional right to abortion and feel strongly that the right to an abortion should be legal and accessible to anyone who needs it. The survey also found that voters and surge voters—voters who have not regularly voted in midterm elections—feel similarly in their strong support for protecting abortion rights and support for elected officials who will fight for abortion rights. Read the full poll here.

Policymakers must ensure that Californians and those seeking abortion care in California have equitable access to care, as restrictions in other states grow and should the U.S. Supreme Court severely gut or overturn Roe v Wade.

Read more about the CA FAB Council report here and the report here.

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The “California Future of Abortion Council” (CA FAB Council) is comprised of reproductive freedom and sexual and reproductive health care allies, partners, and leaders. The CA FAB Council works in collaboration with policymakers, researchers, advocates, providers, patients, and key constituents to determine potential challenges in the state and recommend solutions that will continue to provide access and stability for both Californians and those who may seek services here from out of state. The CA FAB Council allows for those dedicated to protecting reproductive rights and expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care to come together. Learn more here.