California Governor Gavin Newsom signed two laws on Wednesday protecting access to abortion. AB 1356 and AB 1184 strengthen existing privacy laws surrounding reproductive healthcare.
In a statement, Newsom said he is proud “to sign these two bills that demonstrate our dedication to strengthening and further protecting access to reproductive health care services in California.”
Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan introduced AB 1356 to increase penalties for crimes under the California Freedom of Access to Clinic Act and protect patients and providers from being recorded or photographed in the proximity of a reproductive healthcare facility.
Assemblymember David Chiu introduced AB 1184 to ensure that “patient information is kept confidential if they are not the primary policyholder for their health insurance” and seek sensitive health care services like those “related to mental or behavioral health, sexual and reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, substance use disorder, gender affirming care, and intimate partner violence.”
The new laws come as abortion rights in the US face serious challenges in Texas and Mississippi. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in December, which has potential to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Newsom noted that, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, many states will enact so-called “trigger bans”—bans are bans on abortion that are currently unconstitutional but would automatically take effect if Roe were overturned. According to Newsom, 58 percent of women of reproductive age live in states with trigger bans. Newsom believes “it becomes of outsized importance that California assert itself” as a leader in reproductive rights.