California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced over the weekend that Ohio would be added to the state-sponsored travel ban list in California due to the recent passage of an LGBT denial of healthcare law in the Ohio legislature.
According to the Ohio House Bill 110 (HB 110), a law passed earlier this year in Columbus, subsequently signed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and applied to the state’s two year budget in July, healthcare providers within the state can refuse covering or insuring people based on a “conscience-based objection.” As HB 110 has been interpreted by many to allow both insurance companies and healthcare workers to deny care based on factors such as gender and sexuality, it was immediately targeted by many LGBT groups, medical professionals, and lawmakers in Ohio and around the country, particularly those in California like Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell).
After a few months of Ohio not wavering on the new law, and no indication of any possibility of overturning it in the near future, Attorney General Bonta officially added Ohio to the travel ban list during the weekend, with the provision to take effect starting on September 30th. In particular, Bonta said that Ohio’s new law went against California’s AB 1887 law, authored by Assemblyman Low, that allows California to suspend state-paid travel to other states that enact LGBT legislation.
Since being signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown in 2016, California has banned state-sponsored travel to Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia, with the latest previous travel bans being announced only 3 months ago.
“Blocking access to life-saving care is wrong. Period,” explained Attorney General Bonta in a statement. “Whether it’s denying a prescription for medication that prevents the spread of HIV, refusing to provide gender-affirming care, or undermining a woman’s right to choose, HB 110 unnecessarily puts the health of Americans at risk. Critically, the law runs afoul of Assembly Bill 1887. When states discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, the California Department of Justice must act. That’s why — in line with the law — we’re adding Ohio to California’s state-funded travel restrictions list.”
Effective 9/30, CA — in line w/ #AB1887 — is restricting state-funded travel to Ohio as a result of new legislation that threatens to deny medical care to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Blocking access to healthcare is wrong. Period.https://t.co/8oWryHpN2g
— Rob Bonta (@AGRobBonta) September 24, 2021
Assemblyman Low, one of the main legislative forces behind the travel ban, also gave his support of the Attorney General’s decision for similar reasons.
“Ohio’s decision to condone attacks on the health of its nearly 400,000 LGBTQ+ residents was widely opposed by the state’s medical community. It’s plain that this law only serves to discriminate,” explained Low during the weekend. “We will never put Californians at risk of falling victim to the same toxic standard by supporting the use of taxpayer dollars for travel in places where anti-LGBTQ discrimination is the law of the land.”
The 18th state under California’s travel ban
While neither Ohio or Governor DeWine has yet to give a response to California’s actions as of Monday, DeWine did note in July that the law was “not a problem” and that it did not discriminate.
“People are not going to be discriminated against in regards to medical care,” said DeWine two months ago. “We have a vibrant medical care system in the state of Ohio. We have great doctors. We have great nurses. We have great systems. This is not a problem, has not been a problem in the state of Ohio and I do not expect it to be a problem.”
However, experts noted on Monday that it has indeed now become a problem.
“If any state was going to do this, at least initially, it was California,” said Cleveland-based medical lawyer John D’Alessandro to the Globe on Monday. “They’ve had a history of doing this. From what I’ve heard in Columbus, there was always a big concern that California could do this and that other states would follow and that Ohio would have no recourse in court because of of previous cases challenging the ban. Every time a state challenges the California ban, it gets knocked down. Even in the Supreme Court.”
“So they knew it was a risk to do this. Not as risky as some states measures, like North Carolina’s bathroom bill in 2016 or Georgia’s voter ID law and Texas’ new abortion law both passed this year that led to a lot of economic pullouts like big sporting events, film productions, big conventions, and other things that hurt the state economically and in terms of national and international prestige. But still risky nonetheless.”
“California just called it in now after hoping they would change their mind. Now other states will likely follow. Legally speaking, they can do this. But imposing punishment for not being in favor of laws elsewhere? It either looks really good or looks really bad, depending where you side on the issue. This will hurt the state economically, but it won’t be too bad.”
With the ban going into effect at the end of the month, Ohio is expected to combat the California ban soon.
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