California’s governor has announced a new reproductive health spending plan, dedicating an additional $57m to prepare for an influx of people from other states seeking abortions in California.
About $40m in Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget would fund grants for abortion providers offering care to low-income patients without health insurance. An additional $15m would go to help community-based organizations do sexual and reproductive health outreach and education.
The state’s governor and legislators have vowed to make California a safe haven for abortion care in anticipation of a supreme court ruling this summer that could end federal protections for abortions. No other US state does more to protect abortion rights, according to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group.
“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights; we’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women – not just those in California – know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights,” Newsom said in a statement.
Although insurance companies are required to cover abortion care in California, and the state’s public health insurance plan for low-income residents covers abortions, those without insurance generally pay between $655 and $940.
If the supreme court rolls back federal protections for abortion, officials and reproductive health advocates expect thousands of people to come to California from more conservative states to access abortion care. Newsom’s proposed grants could help lower the costs for those people, who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for state health subsidies or coverage.
A separate bill in California’s legislature would also set up a fund, financed by state and private contributions, to cover the travel, lodging and childcare costs of those coming to California for reproductive care.
Newsom’s budget announcement “will go a long way” to protect abortion access “for those who live here and those who may be forced to seek care here”, said Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.
Democrats in the state legislature have proposed 13 bills to improve abortion access in California. Newsom has already signed one of them into law – a bill that makes abortions cheaper by banning private insurance plans from charging co-pays or deductibles for the procedure. The other proposals are moving through the legislature.
Anti-abortion advocates have opposed these proposals in California, but blocking them will be difficult. Polling shows a majority of California voters support abortion rights, including a majority of Republicans.
Any new spending must first be approved by the state legislature. Lawmakers must pass a budget by 15 June.