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Sen. Connie M. Leyva. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill To Make Vasectomies, Contraceptives More Accessible Passes Senate

Critics say that SB 523 will likely raise health insurance costs as a result

By Evan Symon, September 1, 2022 4:56 pm

A bill that would expand access to contraceptive and vasectomy services was passed in the Senate on Wednesday, bringing the bill before Governor Gavin Newsom for a final decision.

Senate Bill 523, authored by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) would require health insurers to provide point-of-sale coverage for over-the-counter FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices, and products at in-network pharmacies without cost sharing or medical management restrictions. Policies offer by public and private universities and colleges would fall in under the bill.

SB 523, also known as the Contraceptive Equity Act of 2022 would also prohibit health insurers from imposing a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirement on vasectomy services and procedures, essentially making them the same as abortions in the state. State plans, such as  ones tied to the Public Employees’ Retirement System, the California State University and the University of California, would need to have plans that follow SB 523 to provide coverage for contraceptives and vasectomies.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) would also be revised under the bill to include protection for reproductive health decision making, essentially adding it to the number of personal things that can be cause for discrimination, As a result, the bill would prohibit specified discriminatory practices, based on reproductive health decision making, by employers, labor organizations, apprenticeships and training programs, and licensing boards while also making it unlawful for employers to require the disclosure of information relating to an applicant’s or employee’s reproductive health decision making.

If passed, these provisions would become law on January 1, 2024.

Senator Leyva wrote the bill due to concerns of reproductive healthcare access across the nation following the reversal of Roe v. Wade in June. With California now building up to be an abortion sanctuary state, SB 523 seen as part of that, giving greater access to contraceptives and vasectomies to help reduce the number of abortions in California.

SB 523 strengthens the ability of Californians to receive timely access to birth control, as well as reduces barriers to contraceptive care by creating greater health equity across the state,” said Senator Leyva in a statement on Wednesday.  “This legislation will build on existing measures to help ensure our contraceptive benefits and policies extend to millions more across the state since current law leaves too many individuals and communities without equitable access.  Californians must be able to decide for themselves if and when they have children.  I thank the determined coalition of contraceptive equity leaders that have worked hard to bring SB 523 to the Governor’s desk.  Now SB 523 stands one signature away from becoming law and reducing the ongoing health disparities in reproductive health outcomes for people of color, low-income Californians and young adults.”

Other supporters noted the significance of the bill.

“Abortions and contraceptive access are critical parts in allowing reproductive freedom,” noted LA abortion clinic worker Angela Guzman in an interview with the Globe on Thursday. “But you need to make sure insurance companies are in on it, that men have access to services that can help them to contribute to the reduction of unwanted pregnancies, that there are fewer financial barrier. Reproductive freedom has some big pieces to it, but with out some of the tinier pieces to the puzzle, it can remain significantly weakened. This piece of legislation helps reverse that.”

Assembly and Senate Republicans remained vehemently opposed to SB 523, as did many anti-abortion groups in California who noted that, besides moral and health issues, a rise in STDs and health insurance companies raising raising their rates to cover these new reproductive measures would likely happen.

“We are going to be punishing people with higher health care costs,” stressed Carl Gorton, a health care policy advisor, the the Globe on Thursday. “That’s what they aren’t telling you about this bill. It’s all benefits and no costs to them. But someone will have to pay for it somewhere, and that will be others on the insurance.”

Despite this, the bill sailed through the Assembly and the Senate in the last few days, passing 62-11 in the Assembly on Monday and 31-9 in the Senate on Wednesday. Levya said of the bills passage on Thursday that “Californians must be able to decide for themselves if and when they have children.”

SB 523 is expected to be signed into law by Governor Newsom in the coming days.

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2 thoughts on “Bill To Make Vasectomies, Contraceptives More Accessible Passes Senate

  1. Democrat Senator Leyva claims she wrote the bill SB 523 due to concerns of reproductive healthcare? Really? She and others in the Democrat party are probably part of the evil deep-state globalist cabal that want to reduce population by any means necessary?

  2. costs are a legitimate concern, but alternatives to abortion as a means of birth control do need to be more widely promoted – if it takes a freebee to get the ball rolling, it’s worth it

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