California Gov. Newsom signs bill barring prosecution for pregnancy loss

The law came in response to the prosecution of two women who were charged after having miscarriages.|

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Tuesday that shields from prosecution those who have lost pregnancies.

Assembly Bill 2223, authored by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, was part of a package of bills signed by Newsom aimed at shoring up abortion and reproductive health rights in California.

“An alarming number of states continue to outlaw abortion and criminalize women, and it’s more important than ever to fight like hell for those who need these essential services. We’re doing everything we can to protect people from any retaliation for accessing abortion care while also making it more affordable to get contraceptives,” Newsom said in a statement.

Under AB 2223, which goes into effect Jan. 1, pregnant people are shielded from both criminal and civil liability in the event of a miscarriage, stillbirth or self-managed abortion.

“Every Californian should feel secure that they can seek reproductive healthcare — regardless of the outcome of their pregnancy — without fear of becoming the subject of a criminal investigation,” Wicks said in a statement.

The law came in response to the prosecution of two Kings County women who were criminally charged after having miscarriages. Though charges in both cases were dismissed, one woman spent 16 months in jail and the other spent nearly four years. The Kings County District Attorney has vowed to bring new charges in one case, according to CalMatters.

According to Wicks’ office, at least 1,300 people have been criminally prosecuted for having miscarriages, stillbirths or self-managed abortions in the last 20 years.

AB 2223 and its author drew heavy criticism from the conservative anti-abortion movement, with some organizations, such as the California Family Council, alleging that the bill would effectively decriminalize infanticide. That is not true. The law does prevent pregnant people from being criminally charged in the event that an infant dies due to pregnancy-related causes. It does not decriminalize the killing of infants.

Other bills signed by Newsom on Tuesday include Assembly Bill 2091, prohibiting health care providers from releasing medical information about abortion-seekers in response to a subpoena or out-of-state request; Assembly Bill 1242, barring California law enforcement and corporations from cooperating with out-of-state entities regarding a lawful abortion in California; Senate Bill 523, requiring health plans to cover certain forms of over-the-counter birth control without cost, and Senate Bill 1375, expanding training options for nurse practitioners and certified nurse-midwives for abortion care.

The bills were championed by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. In a statement, the organization praised Newsom for signing the bills into law.

“As extreme politicians across the country pursue personal political agendas seeking to restrict and criminalize people seeking and providing abortion services — essential health care that should be available to people where they live and when they want or need it — California is showing what is possible when leaders listen to experts, facts, science, and from the people who are directly impacted,” said PPAC President Jodi Hicks.

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