RELEASE: California Governor Approves Bill to Expand Access to Birth Control - AB 1264 Clarifies Vague Telehealth Law for Patients

Friday, October 11, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Building on the state’s historic $100 million investment in reproductive health in the 2019-20 state budget, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed into law Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris’ AB 1264, which clarifies vague telehealth law in order to reduce medically unnecessary barriers to telehealth prescribing, including oral contraceptives.

“As other states and the federal government go backward, restricting reproductive freedom, in California we are moving forward, expanding access and reaffirming a woman’s right choose,” said Governor Newsom. “We’re removing barriers to reproductive health – increasing access on college campuses and using technology to modernize how patients interact with providers.”

“Birth control allows people to choose if and when to start a family and historically has afforded women more economic freedom,” said Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “It is paramount that women have access to the resources necessary to carefully plan a family as they see fit.”

New technologies make it easier to provide access to healthcare. Our laws must reflect this, and must assist medical professionals in harnessing these opportunities. One example includes Planned Parenthood’s PPDirect, which expands access to birth control by prescribing contraceptives via a smartphone app.

Prior to AB 1264, patients had to first schedule a live video-conference with a medical professional to be able to receive birth control. Doctors have found that this barrier to care is medically unnecessary - and it is not a requirement in the 20 other states where PPDirect is deployed. It is estimated that half of patients do not fulfill this specification and are thus ineligible to receive contraception.

AB 1264 clarifies that a simultaneous video visit is not a requirement for telehealth prescribing,   provided that the alternative process is consistent with the accepted standard of care. As telehealth evolves, it is incumbent upon us to update our code sections to reflect our changing technology and reduce arbitrary barriers to care, and AB 1264 does just that.

Sponsoring the bill, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California CEO and President Jodi Hicks said, “California is leading the way—once again—to expand, not ban, access to care. Governor Newsom signing AB 1264 into law, authored by Orange County Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, breaks down unnecessary barriers to essential reproductive health care services, like birth control. This law will ensure the virtual door remains open to address the unmet health care needs of thousands of patients in California who are seeking birth control, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California applauds Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Petrie-Norris’ for their leadership and commitment to expanding access to health care.”

AB 1264 included an urgency clause and became operative immediately. This bill is supported by the California Medical Association and NARAL Pro-Choice California.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus: “As a strong advocate for women’s reproductive rights, I firmly support Assemblymember Petrie-Norris’ AB 1264.  It is crucial that we ensure access to birth control is as easy and streamlined as possible. This common sense bill will help to address the unmet needs for birth control by increasing access for women across California.”

California Medical Association, Dr. David H. Aizuss, M.D., President: “AB 1264 ensures that birth control and other necessary medical services can be safely and appropriately accessed through telehealth technology, which will vastly improve access to care for all Californians. We commend Assemblymember Petrie-Norris and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California for their work on this issue.”

NARAL Pro-Choice, Shannon Hovis, California Director: “True reproductive freedom requires the ability to access contraception without facing unnecessary hurdles, but even here in California, contraceptive deserts persist—exacerbated by the Trump administration’s cruel Title X regulations,” said NARAL Pro-Choice California Director Shannon Hovis. “By making it easier for Californians to access contraception through telehealth, AB 1264 continues to make true on California’s promise to guarantee that all people can make personal decisions about if and when to have a family, free from political interference. On behalf of our 240,000 members statewide, NARAL is grateful for Assemblymember Petrie-Norris’ leadership.”

Planned Parenthood Orange and San Bernardino Counties, Jon Dunn, President and CEO: “We greatly appreciate Assembly Member Petrie-Norris’ leadership on AB 1264. This legislation reduces barriers to care and makes oral contraception more easily obtainable for women throughout the state of California.”

Ro, Zachariah Reitano, Co-Founder and CEO: “We commend the leadership of Governor Newsom, Assemblymember Petrie-Norris, and the California Legislature for their efforts to expand access to safe, affordable, and high-quality healthcare. This important bipartisan legislation will empower providers to choose the mode of remote care that best suits the needs of their patients and ensure Californians have convenient access to treatment regardless of where they live.”

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