Protesters march down Market Street in defense of abortion rights in San Francisco, Calif., on June 24, 2022. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News /Catchlight Local)

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a slew of bills on Tuesday to ensure those seeking abortion care and birth control are protected in California.

Newsom approved a group of 15 bills called the Legislative Women’s Caucus Reproductive Justice Policy Priority Package, created in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and state governments initiating restrictions or bans on abortions.

Within the package is legislation that affirms greater protections from criminal and civil liabilities, prevents out-of-state entities from requesting medical records or attempting to work with California law enforcement, and expands birth control access and training opportunities for health care providers.

“We commend Governor Newsom for signing this important package of bills — proof of our long-standing promise to be a refuge state for anyone seeking an abortion,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “The package protects our reproductive rights by increasing access and privacy of anyone seeking or performing an abortion. We will be the national beacon for reproductive justice.”

Also included in the approved legislation is Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan’s Assembly Bill 1242, sponsored by Attorney General Rob Bonta, which legally protects reproductive digital information inside company databases that are incorporated or headquartered in California.

This prevents out-of-state entities from tracking a woman’s online movement as she travels to California for abortion care — things like her search history from a California IP address or location data could not be accessed without a search warrant that attests the information would not be used to investigate an abortion-related crime.

“As pro-choice states, we must be just as proactive in protecting abortion rights as extremist states have been in destroying them,” said Bauer-Kahan in a statement.

The bill also prevents law enforcement from assisting in investigations, prosecutions or arrests of people seeking abortion care that is legal in California.

The hope is to ensure that California courts and laws by no means facilitate the criminalization of abortion care, even outside of state borders. This privacy standard is the first of its kind in the nation.

“This first-in-the-nation law helps shield those seeking or providing reproductive healthcare against wrongful prosecution and ensures that California laws and California courts are not used to facilitate investigation or prosecution of abortion-related actions that are legal in our state,” Bonta said in a statement. “I’m proud to have sponsored this important legislation by Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan, and I will continue to use every tool in the toolbox to protect reproductive rights.”

Newsom said that as other states in the country attempt to outlaw abortion, he wanted to bolster California’s stance on protecting those seeking reproductive health care and pregnancy termination from legal retaliation, while ensuring equitable health care access for all.

“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 in a statement. “Our Legislature has been on the frontlines of this fight, and no other legislative body in the country is doing more to protect these fundamental rights — I’m proud to stand with them again and sign these critical bills into law.”

The new legislation adds to the already $200 million in state funding allocated to create, among other abortion-related resources like covering uninsured care, supporting health care providers and reinforcing security measures.

Newsom also signed other bills in the package earlier this summer, including one that put on the November ballot a constitutional amendment that would sanctify safe access to abortion and contraception care in the state Constitution.

Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said this legislative action shows what can happen when leaders work to provide essential health care, rather than restricting and criminalizing abortion services.

“Patients and providers across California and the country are living in a state of fear and confusion as we collectively try to navigate this new post-Roe reality. Today’s bold and comprehensive actions provide reassurance to all that California is a Reproductive Freedom state and all are welcome to seek the care they want or need here in California.” Hicks said in a statement.