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Abortion rights council calls on California to pay for out-of-state patients if Roe vs. Wade falls

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Abortion rights council calls on California to pay for out-of-state patients if Roe vs. Wade falls
Abortion rights activists wave signs on the Wilshire overpass overlooking the 110 freeway at a Stop Abortion Bans rally organized by NARAL Pro-Choice California in Los Angeles on May 21, 2019. File Photo by Chris Chew/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A council made up of abortion rights and women's health advocates recommended Wednesday that California prepare to provide abortion access -- and funding -- to all Americans if the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade.

The California Future of Abortion Council was convened in September with support from California Gov. Gavin Newsom and members of the California State Legislature to provide recommendations to government officials on ways to make access to abortion more safe, equitable and affordable. The so-called FAB Council, which comprises more than 40 organizations, issued a report Tuesday making 45 policy recommendations.

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The recommendations come as the Supreme Court considers challenges to restrictive abortion laws in states including Mississippi and Texas that could upend the landmark 1973 ruling that protects a woman's right to an abortion. That could result in several states choosing to outright ban abortions, leaving millions of Americans without access to the procedure.

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"When I ran clinic services for a women's health center, I saw countless individuals who needed information, services, and support," state Sen. Toni Atkins, president pro tempore, said. "Working with the FAB Council, my colleagues and I will ensure Californians and people from every state can get the reproductive health services they need in a safe and timely way -- and that all our rights remain enshrined in law. This is crunch time, but we will not be dragged into the past. California will keep leading for the future."

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Included among the 45 policy recommendations:

-- Provide more funding, support and infrastructure for those seeking an abortion.

-- Reimburse patients for abortion-related expenses.

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-- Invest in a more diverse abortion provider workforce.

-- Reduce institutional barriers to abortion care.

-- Provide legal protection for patients, providers and their supporters.

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-- Counteract misinformation and provide accurate education about abortion.

-- Collect data and carry out research on abortion and education needs in the state.

Jessica Pinckney, executive director of Access Reproductive Justice, said the state must strengthen access to abortion as it prepares for an influx of patients from other states. The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates for abortion rights, predicts out-of-state women seeking abortions in California will increase from 46,000 to 1.4 million if Roe vs. Wade falls and 26 states ban abortion.

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"Abortion funds and practical support organizations have long supported individuals in transportation to and from their appointments or money for gas, lodging for overnight stays, support with childcare, among other supports, however, the unmet need far exceeds what we are able to support. The policy recommendations made in the FAB Council report are integral to filling the gaps in abortion access that exist for Californians and those in our sibling states," she said.

Life Legal Defense Foundation, a non-profit, anti-abortion law firm, said it rejects any legislation that may come of the council's recommendations.

"Life Legal is vehemently opposed to the California Future of Abortion Council's extremist recommendations to expand abortion in the state. CA FAB wants to co-opt all Californians into furthering its radical abortion infrastructure, including funding abortion for uninsured women, state funding for abortion training and invasive interrogation into the sexual activity of minors as young as 10 years old," the organization said in a statement emailed to UPI.

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