California Moving Legislation to Expand Reproductive Health Services

AB 1918 Builds a Reproductive Health Service Corps

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO — Legislation to support and expand California’s reproductive health and abortion care workforce, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, has passed the State Assembly’s Health and Higher Education Committees, and is now being considered by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AB 1918 will create the California Reproductive Health Service Corps, which will be responsible for recruiting, training, and retaining a culturally and linguistically diverse workforce of health care professionals who will be part of reproductive health care teams assigned to work in underserved areas across our state. AB 1918 is part of a package of 13 bills authored by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus addressing the nationwide threat to women’s reproductive rights in accordance with recommendations from the Future of Abortion Council.

A Reproductive Health Service Corps is especially important following news reports detailing a preliminary U.S. Supreme Court majority draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade and end federal constitutional protections for the right to abortion. The Governor and Legislative leadership have proposed a state constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to choose so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state (Release). Legislators including Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris announced their support of increased protections at a press conference (Video).

“I’m horrified by what a decision like this means for millions of American Women,” said AB 1918 author Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine). “And I’m more determined than ever to protect reproductive freedom in California. I support a constitutional amendment, and I’m authoring AB 1918 to expand California’s reproductive healthcare workforce.”

To expand access to sexual and reproductive health services—such as abortion, maternity care and miscarriage management—AB 1918 will provide educational scholarships, living wage stipends, and loan repayment options for current providers and recent graduates of health care education programs. 

With the threat of overturning Roe v. Wade, more than 36 million Americans are now at risk of losing access to abortion care. In addition, California could see an increase in out-of-state patients from “46,000 to 1.4 million - a nearly 3,000 percent increase,” as reported in the Future of Abortion Council (FAB) December Report.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:

“With abortion rights in grave danger across the country, California must be prepared to provide the safe, compassionate abortion care that people deserve. We need to meet this moment with a strong, diverse, and well-trained reproductive health workforce, capable of caring for every person seeking abortion care in our great state. The California Reproductive Health Scholarship Corps reflects a holistic approach to diversify, strengthen and sustain the reproductive health provider workforce. By supporting aspiring abortion care providers at the start of their careers and increasing training opportunities, AB 1918 will help us expand care in underserved areas, with a workforce that reflects the diverse communities of California.” - TEACH Executive Director Flor Hunt

“AB 1918 puts us on a path to ensuring that California remains a Reproductive Freedom State with a highly-qualified, well-trained, and diverse healthcare workforce by creating the California Reproductive Health Service Corps. In California, 40% of counties do not have an abortion provider and nine counties do not have a single OB-GYN. This bill will fund the necessary training to expand access to reproductive care in underserved areas of the state and build the infrastructure we will need if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer. If Roe falls, people across the country will travel to California to access care, and NARAL Pro-Choice California and our nearly 300,000 members thank Assemblymember Petrie-Norris for helping us to meet that moment.” - NARAL Pro-Choice California Director Shannon Olivieri Hovis

"As providers of comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare, family physicians know how important it is that Californians have access to these services. The California Reproductive Health Service Corps will create incentives for increasing the workforce to provide comprehensive access to reproductive health services for our state’s diverse and vulnerable communities." Shannon Connolly, MD, FAAFP, Immediate Past President of CAFP

“In order for abortion providers to continue to be able to provide timely care to Californians while also serving people forced to travel here due to hostile restrictions, it is critical that California increases the network of clinicians who are trained and able to provide these essential services. PPAC is proud to support AB 1918, which proposes innovative steps to improve training for abortion services and ensure support for those who wish to enter the workforce, with a focus on increasing diversity to better reflect the communities and patients served.” – Molly Robson, Legislative Director, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California

“Training opportunities for advanced practice clinicians, RNs and medical assistants in sexual and reproductive health has always been drastically underfunded and under supported. As a national nursing organization, NSRH advocates to expand and create training opportunities for RNs and APCs, and we are thrilled to see CA creating models of funding and programs that address this gap through AB 1918. AB 1918 is an opportunity for CA to create a unified and robust workforce that can better support the growing population seeking sexual and reproductive healthcare in California.” - Anna Brown, BSN, RN, Director of Education, Nurses for Sexual & Reproductive Health

“As a family medicine doctor and abortion provider who trained in, and now practices and teaches in California, I see first-hand the disparities that exist both within training for healthcare providers to gain competency in reproductive health services including abortion, as well as within communities where access to local healthcare does not exist. Healthcare providers and patients alike need to travel far distances, spend a lot of time and money out of pocket to access training and access care respectively - and these disparities have the largest impact on providers of color and communities of color. AB 1918 would help to address these disparities by tackling training with an emphasis on broadening the diversity of trained providers, and incentivizing providers to practice in reproductive care shortage areas of the state. Every Californian deserves equitable care within their own communities by providers in their own communities. - Mai Fleming, MD, Fellow, Physicians Reproductive Health

AB 1918 is sponsored by Training in Early Abortion for Comprehensive Healthcare (TEACH), and is supported by Access Reproductive Justice, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District IX, American Nurses Association/California, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, California Academy of Family Physicians, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, California Nurse Midwives Association, California Women’s Law Center, Citizens for Choice, Essential Access Health, NARAL Pro-Choice of California, National Council of Jewish Women-San Francisco Bay Area Section, National Health Law Program, Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Reproductive Health Access Project, URGE, Women’s Foundation California and Women’s Health Specialists.