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Capitol Day 2019

As states around the country pass increasingly restrictive abortion laws, Capitol Day sheds light on what Californians can do to protect access to reproductive health care.
By: Kristen Armellini

California’s First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom spoke out at this year’s Capitol Day and described protecting reproductive rights as one of “the most critical fights of our time.” The fight has become even more critical this week with Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri passing unconstitutional abortion bans. Speaking from her experience as a physician, PPFA President Dr. Leana Wen declared, “I know that keeping people unhealthy is a tool of oppression, and that when we stigmatize sexual and reproductive health care, that’s a tool of misogyny.” Planned Parenthood has become increasingly politicized as an organization, but at the end of the day the mission is clear: reproductive health care is health care, period, and it should be available to all.

This message was amplified at Capitol Day 2019, an annual lobby day where Planned Parenthood supporters from across CA unite in Sacramento. On April 10th, hours before sunrise, fifty Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund (PPCCAF) supporters from Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties boarded an overnight bus to Sacramento. En route to join hundreds of reproductive rights activists at the State Capitol, the advocates geared up to lobby for a bold policy agenda that would expand access to reproductive healthcare for all Californians—work that is more important now than ever.

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California former President Crystal Strait moderated a couch conversation with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Dr. Leana Wen, and CEO of PP Northern California Gilda Gonzales. Dr. Wen discussed the threats she has seen to reproductive health care while traveling across the U.S., most notably Alabama’s law banning abortions two weeks after conception and criminalizing miscarriages, which was signed into law this week.

Gilda Gonzales explained how even in California, “We shouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves and think we’ve got it all figured out,” revealing that there are 22 crisis pregnancy centers in Northern California compared to 17 Planned Parenthood health centers.

Despite these threats, Dr. Wen asserted, “In California, I am seeing incredible tenacity by our staff who will do everything we can across the country no matter what tests may come our way. Our doors remain open today, and they are going to be open tomorrow because we are here to serve our patients’ needs.”

Should Governor Newsom’s proposed budget pass, Planned Parenthood health centers in CA would not only remain open, they would be able to expand access to care across the state. By allocating $100 million to reproductive health care, the Governor’s proposed budget would enable Planned Parenthood to further its reach in underserved communities, implement programs for virtual healthcare, and invest in new health centers. PPCCAF attendees lobbied Assembly Members Cunningham, Irwin, Limón and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson to prioritize and support Governor Newsom’s budget.

In addition to the budget ask, PPCCAF Capitol Day attendees lobbied for Senate Bill (SB) 24. SB 24 would require all UC and CSU campuses to provide medication abortion in their on-campus health centers. Planned Parenthood Generation Action students bravely shared their personal stories to highlight the dire need for increased access to medication abortion for students. This bill would be a major step toward destigmatizing abortion as medical care. Both SB 24 and Governor Newsom’s proposed budget are critical efforts to expand access to reproductive health care in California.

PPCCAF staff, patient advocates, and supporters came together on Capitol Day 2019 to speak truth to power, but there is still more work to do!  Stay tuned on how you can help support these policy efforts as these proposals move through the 2019 legislative session.  To echo Dr. Wen, Planned Parenthood was here yesterday, we’re here today, and we’ll be here tomorrow and beyond to fight for the reproductive rights we deserve.

To take action NOW, add your name to the petition below to denounce the unconstitutional abortion bans being pushed forward across the nation: