September 22, 2021
Brandon Richards, Director of Communications
California Continues to Show Leadership in Protecting and Expanding Access to Sexual & Reproductive Health Care with Signing of AB 1184 and AB 1356
SACRAMENTO—Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) released the following statement from President/CEO Jodi Hicks in response to Governor Gavin Newsom signing a package of bills aimed at expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, as well as protecting sexual and reproductive health centers across California. Bills signed are AB 1184 (Chiu), PPAC sponsored legislation that ensures patient information is kept confidential when an individual accesses “sensitive” health care services, and AB 1356 (Bauer-Kahn), PPAC sponsored legislation that strengthens safety and security laws for reproductive health centers throughout California.
“California must continue to build upon its status as a Reproductive Freedom state, and these bills are a step in the right direction. With attacks on people’s rights and restrictions on access to abortion reaching new heights, California’s leaders must continue to look to increase health equity, whether they call California home or are an out-of-state patient forced to seek care here due to their home state’s harmful and dangerous restrictions.
“We look forward to working with Governor Newsom, legislative leaders, allies and organizations across California, and allies and supporters to continue to push for increased access and affordability of sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion.”
2021 has been the worst year for abortion restrictions since Roe became the law of the land in 1973. Since the beginning of the year, according to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, nearly 600 restrictions have been introduced across the country. With bans like these, particularly the one allowed to remain in effect in Texas, California’s role as a Reproductive Freedom state becomes even more crucial to build upon in the upcoming legislative session.
AB 1184 updates California’s existing patient privacy laws by: 1) ensuring that communications from the insurance company regarding sensitive services, as defined, are confidential and not sent to the primary policy holder; 2) expanding the existing definition of “sensitive services” to include gender affirming care and behavioral health care - extending automatic confidentiality for these services; 3) ensuring that all patients have a pathway to request confidential communications from their health plan; and 4) ensuring that patients are educated about their confidentiality rights by requiring plans to provide notice. With more people on their family member’s or guardian’s insurance plans, thanks to the expansion in the Affordable Care Act, more people are at risk of having their confidentiality breached through communications from their insurance company. AB 1184 switches the onus from the patient to the insurance company to ensure that someone’s personal health information does not go to the person who did not access the service.
AB 1356 increases safety and protects the privacy of reproductive health care workers and patients by modernizing California’s laws to reflect the threats faced by those who deliver and access care at reproductive health clinics. Specifically, this bill updates California’s Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and online privacy laws to prohibit certain intimidating tactics like taking photos within a reproductive health center’s property and posting those photos online, which could lead to doxing or harm. AB 1356 will also require updated tracking of anti-reproductive rights crimes. Acts of violence and harassment against abortion providers have persisted for decades, with an increase in attacks on abortion access across the nation, individual level harassment at reproductive health clinics has also increased. AB 1356 will improve accountability for individuals who commit crimes outlined in AB 1356 to ensure that nobody is threatened or harassed when accessing reproductive health care or providing reproductive health care.