Two new bills that the legislature passed to facilitate abortions are unlikely to impact either the number of abortions or the work of pro-life advocates, said the CCC’s Kathleen Domingo.
But a bill related to COVID-19 could create unconstitutional restrictions on sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics, she said.
A new law to prevent insurance companies from telling parents if their children have received abortions or other reproductive services is mostly symbolic because California already has workarounds for minors who seek such services without parental knowledge, she said. However, on a personal and practical level, she said, if parents receive “a bill that says we are charging you X amount of dollars for a service that we will not disclose to you, that sounds like insurance fraud to me.”
Another new law to prevent activists from photographing people leaving abortion clinics addressed tactics that are also unacceptable from a Catholic perspective, she said. The worst impact it might have on sidewalk counselors and people keeping prayer vigils is to prevent them from photographing themselves within 100 feet of the clinics.
However, a bill intended to keep anti-vaccine protesters away from clinics could hobble pro-life protesters, since Planned Parenthood provides vaccines. The bishops of California support COVID-19 vaccination and have encouraged Catholics to receive them.
The new law, SB 742, has very broad language. It outlaws carrying signs, speaking to patients, handing out literature, or getting within 30 feet of anyone who is within 100 feet of a vaccination site, regardless of what they are protesting, Domingo said.
“That really does negate our constitutional right to free speech,” she said.