Governor Signs Bills Expanding Protections for Health Care Providers Regarding Reproductive and Gender Affirming Health Care Services


By Emily Powers

On September 27, 2023, Governor Newsom signed two bills, SB 345 (Skinner) (Chapter 260, Statutes of 2023) and AB 1707 (Pacheco) (Chapter 258, Statutes of 2023), to protect California’s doctors and other health care providers from criminalization, civil litigation, and licensure discipline regarding reproductive and gender-affirming health care services that are illegal in other states but are legal in California. The Medical Board of California (MBC) supported both bills. In passing these protections, Governor Newsom stated:

“Radical politicians continue their all out assault on women’s health care with dangerous and deadly consequences. The right to an abortion is enshrined in California’s constitution. We will continue to protect women and health care workers who are seeking and providing basic care.”

Previous law prohibited MBC, as well as other Boards, from denying an application for licensure or suspending, revoking, or imposing discipline upon a licensee if the licensee was disciplined or convicted in another state solely for performing an abortion in that state. AB 1707 prohibits these Boards from 1) denying an application or imposing discipline; 2) denying, removing, or restricting the licensee’s privileges; or 3) denying, suspending, revoking, or limiting a licensee based on a civil judgment, criminal conviction, or disciplinary action imposed by another state’s law that interferes with a person’s right to receive sensitive services that are lawful in California. “Sensitive services,” defined in Civil Code section 56.05, include mental or behavioral health, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-affirming care.

While AB 1707 protects the licensee’s status from a Board’s actions, SB 345 includes AB 1707’s provisions and further protects a licensee’s legally protected health care activity from enforcement of other states’ laws that criminalize or limit the legally protected health care activity. “Legally protected health care activity” includes the exercise of reproductive health and care services or gender-affirming health care services secured by the Constitution or laws of California. These protections include: 1) prohibiting the collection, use, disclosure, sale, or retention of personal information of a person who is physically located at or near a family planning center; 2) authorizing a person to bring a civil action and collect damages against a person who engages in abusive litigation that infringes on or interferes with a legally protected health care activity; 3) permitting a court to grant a stay of enforcement of another state’s judgment; 4) prohibiting a state or local government employee (or a person acting on their behalf) from providing information or using resources to further an investigation on an individual for a legally protected health care activity that occurred in California or would be legal in California; 5) prohibiting a magistrate from issuing a warrant for an individual who allegedly violated the laws of another state regarding sexual or reproductive health care that is lawful in California; and 6) prohibiting a judge from ordering a witness to appear regarding sexual or reproductive health care that is lawful in California. Further, this bill expands an exemption to murder to include a person pregnant with a fetus who committed an act that resulted in the death of a fetus under specific circumstances.

Lawmakers emphasized that these bills are necessary to ensure that California healthcare practitioners can provide reproductive and gender affirming care to all of their patients, regardless of their patient’s location. The California legislature aims to do everything it can to protect what it identified as draconian laws of other states.


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