California stays in the lead for state Data Privacy protections

Abortion has been a hot-button topic for everyone across the nation since the overturning of Roe v. Wade[1] in the landmark decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization[2] on June 24, 2022. Among one of the concerns held by women who are, or could be, affected by the overturning of decades-old law is the issue of data privacy. If someone went to a different state to get an abortion, could enforcement officers from their home state obtain information about their actions and possibly pursue an anti-abortion case? What if they held suspicions and wanted medical information about the individual to confirm whether they left for an abortion, or were thinking about it?

Well, starting from September 27, 2022, if such an individual traveled to California for that abortion or abortion care, the state ensured that their data would be protected. California Governor Gavin Newsom enacted several bills that seek to protect women seeking abortions during a time where many states were moving to outlaw and criminalize the procedure. “[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.[3]

Two of the bills included in the approved package includes protections for out-of-state individuals who come to the Golden State for abortions: AB 1242 and AB 2091.

AB 1242

Spearheaded by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, law enforcement and California corporations are prohibited from cooperating with out-of-state entities regarding a lawful abortion in California. Furthermore, law enforcement cannot knowingly arrest an individual for taking part in, or aiding, a lawful abortion in California.[4] To quote the bill directly, where the mentioned “prohibited violation” is regarding abortion:

“This bill would require an out-of-state warrant for the records listed above to include an attestation that the evidence sought is not related to an investigation into, or enforcement of, a prohibited violation. The bill would prohibit the production of records by a California corporation when the corporation knows or should know that the warrant relates to an investigation into, or enforcement of, a prohibited violation.”[5]

AB 2091

Introduced by Assemblymember Mia Bonta, a health care provider in California is prohibited from releasing medical information on an anyone seeking abortion care if the request for such information was requested or subpoena’d from an out-of-state entity. To quote:

“This bill would prohibit compelling a person to identify or provide information that would identify or that is related to an individual who has sought or obtained an abortion in a state, county, city, or other local criminal, administrative, legislative, or other proceeding if the information is being requested based on another state’s laws that interfere with a person’s right to choose or obtain an abortion or a foreign penal civil action, as defined.”[6]

California has clearly and definitively established its mission to protect abortion seekers and their data. In Nevada, Executive Order 2022-08 affirmed the state’s commitment to reproductive rights by decriminalizing medicated abortions and removing antiquated informed consent laws that created barriers to individuals seeking access to reproductive health care. It remains to be seen, however, if Nevada will go a step further and adopt the kind of data protection and privacy that California has enacted in its new bills for these affected individuals.

[1] Roe v. Wade, 93 S. Ct. 705 (1973).

[2] Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 142 S. Ct. 2228 (2022).

[3] Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, New Protections for People Who Need Abortion Care and Birth Control (Sept. 27, 2022),

[4] Id.

[5] 2022 Cal AB 1242.

[6] 2022 Cal AB 2091.

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