Sen. Gonzalez Introduces SB 245 the Abortion Accessibility Act on the 48th Anniversary of the Landmark Roe v. Wade Court Decision

January 22, 2021

Sacramento, Calif. – Today, on the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D- Long Beach) introduced Senate Bill 245, the Abortion Accessibility Act to ensure all women and pregnant people have access to abortion services regardless of an individual’s income, status, race, zip code, or bank account. The proposed legislation builds on the foundational premise of reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy upheld in the 1973 court decision and takes it a step further by requiring health care service plans or disability insurance policies to cover abortion services without a co-payment, deductible, or any type of cost-sharing requirement.

California is one of six states that require health insurance plans to cover abortion, but many patients are burdened by deductibles that cost hundreds of dollars, and in some cases over a thousand dollars, resulting in lack of access to care for those who cannot afford it. In order to ensure cost is no longer a barrier, the Abortion Accessibility Act would not only remove cost-sharing from an individual’s health plan but would also apply cost-sharing protections to a health plan enrollee’s covered spouse and dependents, and to Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the inequities that exist within our healthcare system, and unfortunately, reproductive care is not the exception to these shortcomings,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Everyone should have the right to make their own decision about when, if and how to start a family. Yet when it comes to Black, Latinx, Indigenous, trans and non-binary individuals, people with disabilities, young people, low-income and rural families and women of color—that choice, that constitutional right can quickly disappear under the financial strain of co-payments, deductibles and debt. It is heartbreaking to imagine the devastating stress and crushing uncertainty that individuals have to go through, as they rush to save funds in hopes of getting the care they need. If our state is to be a true leader and defender of reproductive freedom, then we must ensure care for those who need it most.”

Reproductive rights and healthcare advocates express their support for the Abortion Accessibility Act and highlight the importance of this proposed legislation.

“As we celebrate the 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must acknowledge that for many people, abortion access is already out of reach despite the right to safe, legal abortion. The same is true even in California,” said Jodi Hicks, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “We know for many people with low incomes and Black and Brown people, already forced to navigate a legacy of racist and discriminatory systems, barriers like affordability can significantly impact access to care. We thank Senator Gonzalez for introducing SB 245, the Abortion Accessibility Act, which will help break down barriers to care and expand access so that reproductive freedom is a reality for every person.”

“NARAL Pro-Choice California and our more than 295,000 members are committed to ensuring that every body in California is able to access abortion care. While we’re proud that California is a national leader on abortion rights, without access to affordable care the right to abortion is a right in name only,” said Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice California. “We cannot truly be considered a reproductive freedom state until all Californians are able to access—and afford—abortion care. By removing cost barriers to abortion, this bill is an important step toward guaranteeing that all Californians, regardless of their financial circumstances, have equitable, timely access to the care they need.”

“At the core of reproductive justice is the right to have children, not have children, and the ability to raise your family with dignity. The Abortion Accessibility Act uplifts these values by allowing people to make their own decisions about if, how and when they are going to start or continue their family free from the shame of not being able to afford vital healthcare,” said Nourbese Flint, Executive Director of Black Women for Wellness Action Project. “We want to thank Senator Gonzalez for boldly introducing this bill that is continuing the path to true reproductive freedom in the State of California.”

"ACCESS Reproductive Justice is thrilled to have the Abortion Accessibility Act introduced today by Senator Gonzalez,” said Jessica Pickney, Executive Director of ACCESS Reproductive Justice. “On our healthline, we regularly hear how high co-pays and deductibles—anywhere from $50 to over $2,000—present an immense barrier to our callers as they try to obtain the abortion care they desire. Everyone deserves the right to get their abortion without facing any barriers, including financial barriers presented through cost-sharing."

"As an organization that defends the right to health, we are delighted to be part of this effort to make abortion more available to all Californians irrespective of how much they earn or what type of health insurance they have,” said Fabiola Carrión, Senior Attorney at the National Health Law Program. “In the midst of a public health emergency, we should remove all barriers to health care access."