SACRAMENTO—California state Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) said she aimed to expand abortion access in Los Angeles County in what would be a blueprint for the rest of the state to follow.
Senate Bill (SB) 1245—the Los Angeles County Abortion Access Safe Haven Pilot Program—would expand abortion access regardless of residency status in the county and create more infrastructure to handle the demand. Some counties in California don’t have Planned Parenthood or other clinics offering abortions, so Kamlager said she hopes this program will be a “safe haven for abortion access” for residents in other counties.
“This is about women and them having the right, we having the right to choose our own reproductive rights,” Kamlager said during a May 9 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
The pilot program, which was heard in the committee, would also train abortion providers and other health care workers while combating “misinformation campaigns and providing medically accurate information to health care providers and patients.”
But the committee heard several pro-life advocates who called into the hearing to oppose the bill.
“SB 1245 will expand abortion access in LA County, because it is one-sided in its funding, making no accommodation for access to childbirth services,” said Susan S. Arnall, vice president of legal affairs of the Right to Life League, a nonprofit advocacy group connecting pregnant women to pro-life resources.
“There is no greater power than the power of the purse. We should never make a woman choose between paying rent and having a baby. Let’s fund childbirth and education and child care and adoption services so that low-income minorities have the same option as women of privilege and wealth to have their babies and afford them.”
A handful of other individual residents called into the hearing to oppose the bill, while Kamlager was the only supporting voice for the bill.
The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors threw its support in earlier this month for the pilot program that would create a “reproductive health-care pilot project in the county to support innovated approaches and patient-centered collaborations to safeguard patient access to abortions, regardless of residency,” according to the motion introduced by Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Sheila Kuehl.
The bill comes on the heels of the leak of an opinion draft from the U.S. Supreme Court suggesting a majority vote may overturn the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, although a final decision will not be published for another two months.
According to Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez’s office—who introduced a motion last month to prepare the city for a possible increase in women fleeing anti-abortion states to seek abortions in Los Angeles—a study from the Guttmacher Institute showed that California is likely to experience a 3,000 percent increase of women coming from other states whose closest abortion provider is California.
Currently, there are about 46,000 women who come to the state to receive abortions, and the study estimated that the number could increase to 1.4 million. Abortions in California make up 17 percent of all abortions in the nation, while the state accounts for 12 percent of the country’s population, according to the county’s public health department.
The bill is also supported by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s office.