CITIZENS FOR CHOICE PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCACY – 2021
We continue to face public policy challenges to reproductive health and justice in 2021, even as our nation continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially acute challenges come from state laws restricting access to abortion and birth control; and the repeated failures of our highest court, the U.S. Supreme Court, to exercise its historic role in protecting reproductive rights against such challenges.
TEXAS AND OTHR STATES’ ABORTION BANS
Our attention to that crisis has been shocked into high gear with Texas’s 6-week abortion ban going into effect on September 1, 2021. See our statement about the ban and actions to counter it here. https://citizensforchoice.org/citizens-for-choice-urges-action-fight-the-texas-abortion-ban/ We were profoundly disappointed that our U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop it from going into effect, before women in Texas were denied access to abortion.
We will be following the aftermath of the Texas ban, and how events shape its final outcome. The most concerning event is the pending Supreme Court consideration of a Mississippi case involving a 15-week abortion ban, Jackson v. Whole Women’s Health. That case directly challenges Roe v. Wade and its finding that the Constitution protects women’s rights to choose abortion before viability.
CALIFORNIA STATE LAWS
Against this backdrop of federal threats to abortion access, Citizens for Choice is proud to support abortion access in California, thankfully protected by our state Constitution. In partnership with the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, we go beyond supporting abortion access. We support a wide swath of legislation aimed at advancing reproductive health and justice. Together, we stand in support of women’s autonomy over their bodies, gender equity and everyone’s rights to affordable, quality reproductive healthcare: access to abortion, family planning services, and maternal and child healthcare.
CALIFORNIA 2021-2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
As we strive to make reproductive justice a lived reality in California, we have had successes with the following bills that became law, in order to:
Make the telehealth flexibilities allowed during the COVID-19 public health emergency permanent, including allowing minors to enroll by telephone in Medi-Cal. (AB 32, as included in the budget bill)
Extend funds for supplemental paid sick leave related to COVID-19 for all workers, private and public, from January 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. (AB 84/SB 95)
Extend the wage replacement rates for paid sick leave – 60% for most workers and 70% for lower income workers — for one additional year, to avoid a reduction to a replacement rate of 55%. (AB 123, as revised and included in the budget bill)
Improve criminal justice procedures for survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking, by requiring that judges give weight to the impact of trauma on the person’s behavior, when survivors are charged, sentenced, or seeking conviction relief. (AB 124)
Provide prenatal and infant supplemental assistance payments for pregnant foster youth, to improve pregnancy outcomes and infant health. (AB 366, as included in the budget bill).
Address the US’s high infant and maternal death rates and disparities in maternal and child health, particularly for people of color, by practical, evidence-based measures — such as extending Medi-Cal to cover doula care and postpartum care, increasing the workforce of certified nurse midwives, and enhancing a pregnancy supplement for CalWORKS recipients. (SB 65 and budget bill)
Require free menstrual products to be made available in public schools for grades 6-12, and at community colleges and California State Universities, while encouraging UC schools to do the same, in order to improve educational outcomes for girls. (AB 367)
Compensate survivors of state-coerced sterilization under CA eugenic laws of 1909-1979, and incarcerated women sterilized between 2006-2010 without adequate consent. (AB 1007, as included in the budget bill)
Address skyrocketing rates of STDs in CA, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing spread of a new strain of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, by such measures as mandatory testing during the third trimester for congenital syphilis, expanding insurance coverage for at-home STI testing, and expediting proven therapies for STD’s. (SB 306)
Expand law banning nondisclosures in settlement agreements for sexual harassment, sexual assault and sex discrimination claims, to apply to severance or settlement agreements for discrimination or harassment, to avoid the effect of silencing victims. (SB 331)
We occasionally ask that our supporters join in our advocacy, by contacting policy makers on specific measures. Please consider taking such actions when prompted by our social media posts. You would be making a difference, advancing reproductive health and rights and furthering our goal of making reproductive justice a lived reality for us all.
Elaine L. Sierra, Esq.
Public Policy Director