California bill protects doctors who mail abortion pills to out-of-state patients
( Fox )
California doctors who mail abortion pills to patients in other states would be protected from prosecution under new legislation to be unveiled on Friday
The bill, which is set to be introduced in the state Legislature, would not let the state extradite doctors who are facing charges in another state for providing abortion medication. It would also protect doctors from having to pay fines and let them sue anyone who tries to stop them from providing abortions.
The bill would only provide those protections for doctors who are in California. If a doctor left California to provide an abortion to someone in another state, that doctor would not be protected. It also would not protect patients in other states who receive the medication.
Additionally, it goes beyond abortions, also protecting doctors for mailing contraceptives and transgender-related medications.
State Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat from Berkeley and the author of the bill, said her intent is to make sure California residents who are traveling in other states or living there temporarily can still have access to medication that is legal in their home state. She also acknowledged the bill would also apply to California doctors who treat patients who live in other states.
"This is essential health care," Skinner said. "Our health care practitioners should be protected for treating their patients regardless of where their patients are geographically."
Other states have tried to block the distribution of the abortion pill, known as mifepristone; the pills have been legal in the U.S. for more than two decades.
Most abortions are outlawed in Idaho, including medication abortions. Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center – a group that opposes abortion rights – said California has a responsibility to extradite physicians who break Idaho laws.
"The arrogance of such a proposal is astounding," Conzatti said of Skinner’s bill. "It flaunts the traditional relationship between states and would upend our federal system altogether."
While California already has laws that prevent courts from enforcing out-of-state judgments on abortion providers and volunteers, that law was aimed at protecting doctors who provide abortions for patients traveling to California from other states.
People who are anti-abortion argue laws like that are illegal because they violate a clause in the U.S. Constitution that says states must give "full faith and credit" to the laws of other states. However, federal courts have recognized an exception that that clause, including laws in a state that violate the "public policy" of another state.
This bill says it is the public policy of California that doctors should not be charged for providing abortion medication.