Senate Leader Atkins’ Abortion Provider Protection Bill Approved by Legislature, Heads to Governor for Signature

September 11, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Today, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins’ bill to strengthen protections for California health care providers who provide abortion care services and gender-affirming care services passed the Senate on a 31-8 concurrence vote.

 “Since the fall of Roe v Wade, California has stepped up to provide reproductive and gender-affirming care to the increasing number of patients coming here from states that have cut access to these essential medical services,” Pro Tem Atkins said. “This bill is about protecting access by protecting the providers, and ensures that they can continue to provide critical reproductive care here, where it is legal and enshrined in our state constitution.”

Senate Bill 487, which had technical amendments added in the Assembly, would ensure that a health insurer, Medi-Cal, or health care service plan cannot penalize a licensed California health care provider who performs abortion or gender-affirming care services. The bill would also prohibit insurers from discriminating or refusing to contract with a provider sanctioned in another state for providing care that is legal in California but illegal in another state. With many states also starting to restrict or outlaw gender-affirming care, this provision is needed now more than ever.

A recent study from the Guttmacher Institute showed a sharp increase in estimated abortions performed during the first six months of 2023 in states that have protections for access to abortion. California had the second largest increase in abortions performed in brick-and-mortar health facilities and medication abortions provided over Telehealth or virtual providers.

Anecdotal evidence from reproductive care providers also point to an increased need for providers and protecting access to abortions and reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties reported a three-fold increase in the number of patients seeking abortions between June 2022 and August 2022. While Planned Parenthood of Mar Monte saw an increase of 100 extra patients each month, a four-fold increase from last year, according to a story in the San Jose Mercury News.

SB 487 follows more than a decade of work by Pro Tem Atkins to widen access to reproductive health care in California. As a director of clinical services for a women’s reproductive health clinic in the 1990s, she learned firsthand how essential access to safe healthcare is for women and people of all ages, and has been a fierce champion of protecting and expanding access reproductive rights and services.

SB 487 is one of two reproductive access bills Pro Tem Atkins authored this year, both of which now have been passed by the Legislature. Her other bill, SB 385, would expand and modernize reproductive care training for physician assistants, increasing and reinforcing the abortion provider workforce in California. SB 385 builds upon legislation she authored in previous years to expand the types of providers who can perform early abortions. 

Last year, Pro Tem Atkins also authored SCA 10, the constitutional amendment that created Proposition 1, which enshrined the fundamental right to abortion and contraceptives in the California Constitution. Under Pro Tem Atkins’ leadership, California also invested an additional $200 million in the 2022-23 state budget to expand and protect reproductive healthcare.

SB 487 will now be sent to the Governor’s desk for his approval.

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Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: