Oroville Mercury-Register

Newsom signs privacy laws for abortion patients

- By Adam Beam

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two laws on Wednesday that aim to protect the privacy of abortion providers and their patients, declaring California to be a “reproducti­ve freedom state” while drawing a sharp contrast with Texas and its efforts to limit the procedure.

One law makes it a crime to film people within 100 feet (30 meters) of an abortion clinic for the purpose of intimidati­on — a law abortion rights groups believe to be the first of its kind in the country. The other law makes it easier for people on their parents’ insurance plans to keep sensitive medical informatio­n secret, including abortions.

The laws, coupled with Newsom’s comments, have only intensifie­d the political rivalry between the nation’s two most populous states. California and Texas have become bastions of their respective political ideologies, with each state carving out opposing positions on issues including health care, immigratio­n and the environmen­t.

That rivalry has come into focus with a new Texas law that bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant.

It’s already illegal in California to post personal informatio­n about abortion providers or their patients online. But that law hasn’t been updated since the mid2000s, before the proliferat­ion of smart phones with high-tech cameras that can rapidly post to social media websites.

The new law authored by state Assemblywo­man Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democrat from Orinda, makes it a misdemeano­r to film someone without their consent for the purpose of intimidati­on. Offenders can be punished by up to one year in a county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

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