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Sacramento Snapshot: Bill expanding contraceptive access gets early bipartisan support

Editor’s note: Sacramento Snapshot is a weekly series during the legislative session detailing what Orange County’s representatives in the Assembly and Senate are working on — from committee work to bill passages and more.

Even in California, where voters recently enshrined access to abortion and contraceptives in the state constitution, reproductive health care can be difficult for some to obtain.

But a bill that would expand coverage of long-acting reversible contraceptives for lower-income women got bipartisan support in the Assembly Health Committee last week.

California’s Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment program, otherwise called Family PACT, provides free services like some forms of birth control, HIV testing, cervical cancer screening, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment and more for people with family incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Under the bill spearheaded by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Irvine, Family PACT would provide coverage for long-acting reversible contraceptives, like IUDs, during inpatient visits.

Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Irvine, is behind legislation that would expand access to long-acting contraceptives for lower-income women. The bill recently cleared a committee hurdle, with bipartisan support. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Irvine, is behind legislation that would expand access to long-acting contraceptives for lower-income women. The bill recently cleared a committee hurdle, with bipartisan support. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The idea is to expand access to these types of contraceptives while women are already receiving pregnancy or abortion health care — especially since as many as 40% of women do not attend postpartum visits, according to research from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and that rate is even higher among those with “limited resources.”

“Even in California, we see women who can’t get the birth control they want when they need it because they lack certain coverage,” Petrie-Norris said.

Petrie-Norris’ bill was included in the reproductive health care package unveiled by the Legislative Women’s Caucus earlier this month.

Her AB 90, supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District IX, is related to contraceptive access, not abortion: IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are reversible options to prevent pregnancy and do not cause abortions. Still, after the U.S. Supreme Court dismantled Roe v. Wade, some state legislatures have attempted to ban some contraceptives, like IUDs.

“Right now, the topic of reproductive health care, reproductive freedom, is so politicized, and we have seen many on the opposite side of this fight denying a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, which is shocking and horrifying in 2023 in the state of California, and we’re seeing women’s reproductive freedom under assault all across the country,” said Petrie-Norris.

“Given that context, it is gratifying when we are able to see bipartisan support for a common sense bill that ensures low-income women get the birth control they need when they need it.”

The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

Incentives for drug treatment

Another bill that saw early bipartisan support this week was legislation from Assemblymember Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel, creating a pilot program to allow judges in three counties (Sacramento, San Diego and Solano) to offer incentives for certain defendants to participate in and complete drug court. Those incentives could range from gift cards for negative drug tests to travel and housing subsidies to participate in the drug treatment program.

The idea is to help those who are addicted to drugs stay clean. If the initial pilot program is successful, the aim would be to expand it eventually to other counties, like Orange.

“The status quo is simply not working. Sending convicted addicts to jail and hoping they recover on their own is failing our communities,” Davies said. “Addiction is a lifelong disease and with pilot programs to assist with things like transportation or housing assistance, like what AB 697 is offering, we can help incentive them to not only go to drug treatment counseling but develop ways to stay clean in the future.”

This bill unanimously passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee last week.

In other news

• Gov. Gavin Newsom saw his plan to punish big oil companies from profiting while gas prices skyrocket clear the Senate last week. As it stands now, it would be up to the California Energy Commission to determine if civil penalties should be levied on these companies for price gouging.

As the bill made its way through the upper chamber last week, multiple OC senators weighed in.

During a committee hearing, Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, said he doesn’t believe there’s “actual proof of collusion” that oil companies are attempting to gouge customers, but “what’s become clear as we’ve looked into this is that this is a fundamentally broken market, and the primary beneficiaries of this broken market have been the oil refiners.”

Min acknowledged that he doesn’t believe the legislation is “a perfect proposal,” but it addresses his concerns, and he was a yes vote on the Senate floor last week.

Sen. Kelly Seyarto, however, voted against it. From the Senate floor, Seyarto questioned why the proposal was being “rushed” through the legislature and argued it could have the unintended consequence of actually raising gas prices.

“We are not helping our consumers,” said Seyarto, a Republican whose district includes Yorba Linda.

• Assemblymember Tri Ta, R-Westminster, authored a resolution to commemorate May 11 as Vietnam Human Rights Day in California.

“I came to the United States from Vietnam at the age of 19 to experience true freedom,” Ta said. “Hundreds of thousands of my fellow Vietnamese also fled to our great state of California. We are now proud Americans and are deeply appreciative of the liberty and dignity that is afforded to everyone under our democratic ideals. Our hearts break for the people still living under tyranny.”

• A Senate committee unanimously OK’d legislation from Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, that creates a statewide court notification system to notify defendants of scheduled appearances via text message. Many missed appearances are unintentional, a fact sheet about the bill from Umberg’s office says, and while several counties already have such as system in place, a statewide program is needed. Next up for the bill: Appropriations Committee.

Source: Orange County Register

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