Senate Passes Bill To Protect Privacy of Abortion Clinic Staff, Patients
The Senate yesterday voted 23-11 to approve a bill that would protect the confidentiality of abortion clinic patients and staff, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The bill (AB 797), which the Assembly passed in June, would allow doctors, nurses, patients and volunteers at abortion clinics to enroll in the state's Safe at Home program, established in 1998 to keep confidential the home addresses of domestic violence survivors. Safe at Home -- administered by the secretary of state's office -- also forwards mail at no cost to individuals who qualify for the program. Under the legislation, co-sponsored by Assembly member Kevin Shelley (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), abortion clinic physicians could receive the mail-forwarding service for $53 per year. In addition, the bill would prevent antiabortion groups from "posting individuals' home addresses on Web sites." Alfie Charles, spokesperson for Secretary of State Bill Jones (R), said that Jones opposes expanding Safe at Home to abortion clinic patients and staff because of cost concerns. About 1,200 state residents participate in the program, and the legislation would add about 100 individuals in the first year and 25 more in each subsequent year. The bill now moves back to the Assembly for consideration of Senate amendments (Chu, AP/Contra Costa Times, 8/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.