California Governor signs privacy laws for abortion patients
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed two bills aimed at protecting the privacy of abortion providers and their patients, declaring California a “state of reproductive freedom,” while contrasting sharply with Texas and his efforts forms the limit of the procedure.
A law makes it a crime to film people within 30 meters of an abortion clinic for intimidation purposes – a law that abortion rights groups consider the first of its kind in the country. The other law makes it easier for parents’ insured persons to keep sensitive medical information, including abortions, secret.
The laws, coupled with Newsom’s comments, have only exacerbated political rivalry between the nation’s two most populous states. California and Texas have become bastions of their respective political ideologies, with each state taking opposing positions on issues such as health care, immigration, and the environment.
This rivalry has recently been brought even more into focus by a new Texas law that bans abortion once a heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant. The US Supreme Court has decided to put the law into effect for the time being, banning most abortions in the state.
“These are dark days. I think you can’t underestimate the ramifications of the moment we’re living in, ”said Newsom. “It will be of paramount importance that California prevail.”
It is already illegal in California to post personal information about abortion providers or their patients online. But that law hasn’t been updated since the mid-2000s, before the spread of smartphones with high-tech cameras that can quickly post on social media websites.
The new law, written by MP Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democrat from Orinda, makes it a crime to film someone for intimidation purposes without their consent. Offenders can be punished with up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $ 10,000, or both.
The law also requires extensive training for local law enforcement agencies in enforcement.
“We’re increasing the stakes. We say that in California we will not accept that our reproductive health professionals and patients are exposed to threats both online and in person, ”said Bauer-Kahan.
The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal defense organization, rejected the bill. In a letter to lawmakers, the group said that violence “is outside the limits of legitimate political discourse, regardless of who perpetrates it.”
“At the same time, a spirited debate must not be punished or stifled by simply calling it intimidating or threatening from the speaker’s point of view,” the group wrote.
Newsom also signed a law on Wednesday making it easier for people who are still on their parents’ health plan to keep their medical treatment secret. State and federal laws already provide data protection for people who are not the main insured in a health insurance company. But state MP David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco, said patients must request this confidentiality and the law has not been consistently enforced.
This new law, written by Chiu, requires insurance companies in California to automatically keep certain medical procedures confidential – including abortions. Chiu said the bill is important now as federal Affordable Care Act allows people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 years old.
“This invasion of privacy has placed them in a terrible and, in some cases, dangerous position,” said Chiu. “If you receive sensitive health services, only you should receive confidential communications about them.”
Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council, said the bill should have differentiated between a 25-year-old on his parents’ health plan and a 12-year-old.
“Parents should be consulted before their underage children receive life-changing medical treatment,” he said. “It is deeply worrying that the legislature and governor continue to usurp parental authority.”