California governor moves to protect 'privacy' of minors who procure abortions 

shutterstock 1124432339 Govenor Gavin Newsom of California./ Karl_Sonnenberg/Shutterstock

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a pair of bills Sept. 22 that relate to privacy surrounding abortion, both of which could make it easier for minors to hide abortions from their parents. 

AB 1356 makes it illegal to film or photograph patients or employees within 100 feet of an abortion clinic “with the specific intent to intimidate a person from becoming or remaining a reproductive health services patient, provider, or assistant.”

The second bill, AB 1184, would allow insured individuals, including minors, to keep “sensitive services” confidential from the insurance policyholder, generally their parents. 

The bill requires insurance companies to “accommodate requests for confidential communication of medical information” regardless of whether “disclosure would endanger the individual.” 

The bill, which is set to take effect in July 2022, specifically mentions “sexual and reproductive health” and “gender affirming care” as potentially “sensitive services.” 

Newsom’s office heralded the laws as a strengthening of California’s status as a “haven” for women seeking abortions. 

“This action comes in the wake of attacks on sexual health care and reproductive rights around the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to block Texas’ ban on abortion after six weeks,” a statement from Newsom’s office reads, referring to a new pro-life law in that state that took effect Sept. 1. 

“California is a national leader on reproductive and sexual health protections and rights, and Governor Newsom’s actions today make clear that the state will remain a haven for all Californians, and for those coming from out-of-state seeking reproductive health services here.”

CNA reached out to the California Catholic Conference for comment. 

A group of Republican lawmakers wrote to Newsom before he signed the bills into law, urging him to veto them instead. 

“We should be encouraging parents and family to be involved in their children’s lives, not removing them further from it,” the letter reads, which was signed by nine state senators. 

They also argued, in a more pragmatic vein, that AB 1184 would put policyholders in the “impossible position” of being financially responsible for bills incurred by their dependent children, but which they have no means of verifying because of the new confidentiality rules.

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