California expands abortion access by eliminating out-of-pocket costs

by Trinity Cardinal

Chris Lieberman, FISM News


As states around the country are introducing measures to restrict abortion in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision on whether or not to overturn Roe v. Wade, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has sought to increase abortion access in the Golden State, signing a bill that would eliminate co-pays and deductibles for those seeking to end the life of their unborn child.

“As states across the country attempt to move us backwards by restricting fundamental reproductive rights, California continues to protect and advance reproductive freedom for all,” said Newsom in a statement. “With this legislation, we’ll help ensure equitable, affordable access to abortion services so that out-of-pocket costs don’t stand in the way of receiving care.”

The new law, Senate Bill 245, would eliminate all out-of-pocket fees for those with private insurance seeking an abortion. California already requires insurance companies to cover the cost of an abortion, but expenses such as co-pays and deductibles lead to an average cost of $543 for a medication abortion and $887 for a procedural abortion, according to the California Health Benefits Review Program. California now joins Illinois, New York, and Oregon as the fourth state to ban such fees for abortions.

The move comes as the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks. The decision, which is expected by this summer, could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two landmark cases that limit states’ ability to ban abortions. After oral arguments in December, pro-life advocates are optimistic that the impending decision could be a major win for the pro-life movement, an outcome abortionists dread.

Both conservative and liberal states have passed laws in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision. Republican governors in states such Florida, West Virginia, and Texas have all signed bills into law that would place restrictions on abortion. Meanwhile, Democratic governors have passed laws to increase access to abortion in their own states and make it easier for women living in states where abortion is restricted to travel in order to obtain an abortion.

California’s new law is one of 14 proposals from California’s Future of Abortion Council, a group advising Newsom on how to respond to the potential roll back of Roe. The proposed bills include creating an “Abortion Support Fund” to help offset costs such as travel and childcare expenses for women seeking an abortion, allowing nurse practitioners with certain training to perform first-trimester abortions without the supervision of a doctor, and banning the release of medical records to out-of-state law enforcement seeking to enforce abortion bans in the woman’s home state.

While lawmakers in California claim to be passing these measures in the name of healthcare, their legislative actions may suggest otherwise. For example, the most recent bill related to cancer care co-pays, which was approved by Newsom’s Democratic predecessor Jerry Brown back in 2018, actually increased the maximum allowable co-pay for cancer treatment in the state from $200 up to $250 through the year 2024. The fact that the Democratic governor and legislature has made no similar effort to reduce the financial burden of cancer care would seem to indicate that these measures are more intended to increase access to abortion than healthcare in the state of California.