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California legislature passes bill to protect abortion providers and patients from civil lawsuits

Assembly Bill 1666 then heads to the office of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who supports abortion rights. It would take effect immediately upon his signature.

The measure would ensure that “the law of another state permitting a civil action against a person or entity who receives or seeks, performs or induces, or aids or abets the performance of an abortion, or who attempts or has intent to engage in such actions” is contrary to California public policy and is unenforceable by California courts.

AB 1666 “creates the protections to make California a legal sanctuary for reproductive choice,” the bill’s Democratic sponsor, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, said during a hearing earlier this month.

The bill comes in response to laws in states like Texas and Oklahoma, which allow private citizens to bring civil lawsuits against anyone who assists a pregnant person with an abortion in violation of the law.
Many GOP-led states have enacted restrictive abortion laws as the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is expected this month to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a nationwide right to abortion. A leaked draft majority opinion, which was published in May by Politico, would invalidate Roe v. Wade. A final opinion in this case could come as early as Friday.
Meanwhile, Democratic-led states such as Connecticut, Colorado and Washington State recently passed laws to protect abortion rights. The law in Connecticut and Washington is similar to that in California, in that it is designed to protect people who perform an abortion or receive assistance to obtain the procedure in those states and are then sued in another state. .

AB 1666 is on a list of legislative proposals from the California Future of Abortion Council, a coalition that includes abortion rights groups.

“These precautions and protections are a key first step as California prepares for a post-Roe world, and sadly necessary given the increased hostility and frequency of abortion bans in other states seeking to target patients and providers,” Molly Robson, legislative director of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said in a statement.

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