Several controversial bills proposed in the California legislature, including two backed by Planned Parenthood, will likely have no chance to be considered when lawmakers reconvene to address legislation in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.
Legislation expected to stall includes a proposal to eliminate co-pays and deductibles for abortion; a proposal to require insurance companies to hide “sensitive” procedures from parents; and a requirement to ensure foster children as young as 10 are told of their legal right to abortion and to birth control..
Steve Pehanich, director of communications and advocacy at the California Catholic Conference, did not comment on the bills individually but reflected on the limits now facing the California legislature.
“Right now, California legislators have been told to significantly reduce the number of bills they introduce. Bills must now be related only to COVID, homelessness or wildfires. Nothing else will be considered,” he told CNA.
“We do not know if any of these bills will see the light of day and, even if they do, they could be significantly altered.”
“The legislature will be focusing on the state budget once they return. They are constitutionally required to enact a budget by June 15 so most of the energies will go toward that end,” he added.
While lawmakers are set to return in early May, Pehanich said, many think that is an “optimistic” return date, given the difficulties of the coronavirus epidemic.
Among the bills proposed in the California legislature is Senate Bill 1004, which would require health insurance companies to hide “sensitive” medical procedures for adult and minor children who are covered under their parents’ health coverage plan.
Such procedures include abortions; sexually transmitted infections treatment; drug abuse and mental health treatment; and sexual assault treatment.
Under state law, minors can already consent to such treatment without consent of a parent or legal guardian. Adult children’s opposite-sex hormones and purported sex-change operations would also be hidden.
“If passed, parents will find themselves obligated to pay for medical bills for their dependents, but they will not know what they are paying for,” the California Family Council said in a release about the bill.
An insurance company that informs parents of such procedures would face criminal charges under the bill.
Planned Parenthood Action listed the bill as a legislative priority.
“When a patient accesses care for a sensitive service, including sexual and reproductive health care, confidentiality is of the utmost importance,” the group said on its website.
Noting that the patient seeking services is not always the health care coverage policy holder, the group said it would prevent parents or an abusive spouse from learning about any sensitive services.
Another Planned Parenthood-backed bill, Assembly Bill 1973, would bar deductibles, co-payments, or other cost-sharing requirements for abortions under Medi-Cal, a health care service plan, or an individual or group disability insurance policy, the California Family Council said.
A.B. 2035 would require social workers to inform children in foster care aged 10 or older about their legal rights to receive free birth control and abortions without their foster parents’ approval or knowledge. County social workers would be required to verify to the court that they have informed foster children of these rights
The bill would require foster families to receive annual training to explain these legal rights of foster children.
Pehanich, while not commenting on specific proposals, outlined general principles.
“All bills are evaluated on the principles embodied in faithful citizenship, respect for life and Catholic social teaching,” he said.
“None of these bills have even had a hearing yet and I think the odds are fairly good they will not. Of course, the California Catholic Conference is in favor of parental consent and opposes legislation that promotes or expands abortion.”
Other proposals likely to be shelved include a $15 million LGBT Transgender Wellness Fund.
The money, as proposed by A.B. 2218, would fund grants to hospitals, nonprofits, health care clinics and other medical providers which provide puberty blockers and opposite-sex hormones for minors.
The grants would also support these provisions for adults, as well as fund purported sex-change operations.