Last Tuesday, May 28 the Bay Area Doula Project held our monthly Salon Series event, "Full Spectrum Advocacy: A review of current bills in the California Legislature that affect your body & your community." This event featured four panelists discussing some of the reproductive health and justice related bills currently in the California legislature, and how we can make an impact on the passage of these bills.
Lupe Rodríguez, Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte started off the evening with the following definition of reproductive justice from EMERJ (Expanding the Movement for Empowerment and Reproductive Justice): "Reproductive justice exists when all people have the social, political, and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about our gender, bodies, and sexuality for ourselves, our families, and our communities."
Three reproductive justice focused bills were discussed by our panelists: AB 1308, AB 271, and AB 154.
Treesa McLean, a Licensed Midwife (LM) who has been serving Bay Area families for 30 years, spoke on AB 1308, a bill that will clarify midwifery educational paths in California, make Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) able to precept student midwives in the LM track, and allow LMs to order medications and devices they use within their scope of practice. Treesa spoke on how reproductive justice is allowing people to give birth the way they want, for example, vaginal births after a Caesarean section.
For more information on AB 1308 and to take action, visit the website of California Families for Access to Midwives, a "statewide, nonprofit coalition committed to ensuring that all California families have access to safe, affordable midwifery care."
Sierra Harris, Assistant Director of ACCESS Women's Health Justice spoke about AB 271, which will repeal the Maximum Family Grant rule. As explained on the ACCESS website, "Under current California law, infants born into families receiving CalWORKS assistance are denied cash aid- this is known as the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule. This law endangers the health and wellbeing of infants born into poverty, while purposely limiting the reproductive choices and violating the privacy of low-income women. AB 271 would repeal the MFG rule to provide for the basic needs of newborn children while allowing women to make family planning decisions."
Also check out this article by Elena R. Gutierrez, PH.D, "Bringing Families Out of 'Cap'tivity: the Need to Repeal the CalWORKS Maximum Family Grant Rule."
The third bill discussed at Tuesday's event was AB 154, which will reduce barriers to reproductive health care by allowing trained nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform early aspiration abortions. Ashley Morris of the ACLU of Northern California told us more about this bill. Currently, over 50% of California counties lack an abortion provider (check out this map showing where providers are located in CA). By increasing the number of available abortion providers and allowing mid-level practitioners already working in these communities to perform abortions, AB 154 will help increase abortion access in these areas and others around the state.
In exciting news, on Tuesday this bill was passed in the Assembly, 48-24, and is now headed to the Senate! Read more about the bill and its passage in the Assembly in this article.
For more information and to take action, sign up here on the ACLU's website.
This informative and inspiring event came to a close with this interesting graphic from Lupe Rodríguez about how a bill becomes a law.
Thank you so much to all our panelists for sharing your knowledge about these important bills and explaining how to get involved in shaping reproductive health and justice policy. Be sure to visit the links above for more information on all of these bills and to learn more about taking action!