By Emily Hoeven,
Bills clear key hurdles
Hundreds of protesters descended on the state Capitol on Tuesday for two separate rallies to oppose abortion- and COVID-related bills facing key votes in the Legislature — underscoring the extent to which some California voters are dissatisfied with the policy proposals emanating out of Sacramento.
First up: Abortion. One of the rallies — which featured what appeared to be a Christian band and dancers waving colorful banners, along with protesters holding signs with slogans such as “Babies’ Lives Matter” — was in opposition to a bill by Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks of Oakland to abolish California’s requirement that coroners investigate stillbirths.
- Supporters say the bill, which passed the Assembly Health Committee on a 11-3 vote, would prevent women from being held civilly or criminally liable for their pregnancy outcomes — such as in the case of two Kings County women who were charged with murder and imprisoned after delivering stillbirths and testing positive for methamphetamine.
- But opponents say the bill — which also prevents liability if an infant dies during the perinatal period “due to a pregnancy-related cause” — would essentially legalize the killing of newborn babies, CalMatters’ Nigel Duara reports. Some anti-abortion groups define the perinatal period as a month or more after delivery; the National Center on Health Statistics defines it as between 28 weeks of gestation and seven days after birth.
- Susan Arnall, vice president of legal affairs for the Right to Life League: “A mother, her boyfriend or, for that matter, the babysitter, can starve or beat or shake a three-week-old baby to death and no one can investigate because under (the bill) it is a ‘perinatal death.’”
- Wicks: “These same groups that are trying to ban abortion across this country and imprison people for stillbirths have manufactured a disinformation campaign using disturbing and violent imagery that is not grounded in medical science or the actual text of the bill.”
Also Tuesday, lawmakers advanced a bill that would allow some California nurse practitioners to perform first-trimester abortions without a doctor’s supervision — part of a larger package of bills to expand abortion access to Californians and out-of-state residents.
On to COVID: The People’s Convoy — a trucker caravan crisscrossing the country in opposition to vaccine mandates and COVID restrictions — gathered for their second straight day of protests at the Capitol. Their backdrop: a large poster of Democratic Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento emblazoned with the word “LIAR.”
- Pan last week tabled his controversial bill that would have required all children ages 0 to 17 to be vaccinated against COVID to attend school or child care in person.
- And although a key committee was slated today to consider another contentious Pan bill to withhold state funding from law enforcement agencies that oppose public health orders, a legislative database showed late Tuesday night that the “final hearing was canceled at the request of the author” after having already been postponed twice. Pan’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
- Meanwhile, lawmakers on Tuesday advanced another bill to reclassify the sharing of COVID-19 “misinformation” by doctors and surgeons as unprofessional conduct that could result in disciplinary action — but only after significantly watering it down.
- According to the bill’s amendments, medical professionals would only face discipline for sharing COVID misinformation directly with their patients — and not, say, on a social media post or in a YouTube video.