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Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan and Attorney General Bonta’s Legislation Protecting Digital Information on Abortion Heads to the Governor

Amendments to AB 1242 will protect digital information stored by California companies

For immediate release:

Sacramento CA –Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan’s bill, AB 1242, sponsored by Attorney General Rob Bonta, has passed the California State Legislature and is now on the Governor’s desk. The bill includes new language to forge a legal path to protect reproductive digital information handled by companies headquartered in California. The bill would also prevent arrest or turnover of information in an investigation related to any abortion already legal in California.

“This is an unprecedented step to protect abortion privacy across the country” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “We have no obligation to be complicit in enforcing laws that are antithetical to our own values and legal system in California.”

AB 1242 would prohibit the arrest of anyone for aiding or performing a lawful abortion in California and prohibits California law enforcement from sharing information or assisting in an investigation related to a lawful abortion with out-of-state agencies. Additionally, the bill would require out of state law enforcement agencies seeking data or records from corporations in California to provide an attestation that the investigation does not involve any crime related to an abortion that would be lawful under California law. In sum, these provisions ensure that California courts and California laws are not used to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of abortion-related actions that are legal under California law.

AB 1242 takes an innovative legal approach to protect user data. The bill prohibits California law enforcement agencies from assisting or cooperating with the investigation or enforcement of a violation related to abortion that would be lawful in California.  This law thereby blocks out of state law enforcement officers from executing search warrants on California corporations in furtherance of enforcing or investigating an anti-abortion crime.  For example, if another state wants to track the movement of a woman traveling to California seeking reproductive health care, the state would be blocked from accessing cell phone site tower location data of the woman in California. In addition, if another state wants Google search history from a particular IP address, it could not serve an out of state search warrant at Google headquarters in CA without an attestation that the evidence is not related to investigation into abortion services.

"California will not stand idly by as anti-choice states across the nation take radical action to criminalize reproductive rights. Abortion is fully legal in California and we'll fight to protect all who access reproductive healthcare in our state," said Attorney General Rob Bonta. "I'm proud to sponsor AB 1242, first-in-the-nation legislation that will help shield those seeking or providing reproductive healthcare against wrongful prosecution. AB 1242's groundbreaking data privacy provisions are crucial -- they prohibit tech companies served with search warrants in California from providing digital information to out-of-state law enforcement agencies seeking to enforce anti-abortion law. I'm grateful to Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan for her dedication to protecting reproductive rights."

AB 1242 is now on the Governor’s desk. The bill is joint-authored by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), and co-authored by Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Boerner-Horvath, (D – Oceanside), Calderon (D- Whittier), Carrillo (D- Los Angeles), Cervantes (D-Corona), Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), Holden (D- Claremont), Jones-Sawyer (-Los Angeles), Friedman (D-Glendale), Haney (D-San Francisco), Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), Rubio (D–West Covina), Petrie-Norris (D-Newport Beach), Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), Wicks (D-Berkeley) and Wilson (D-Fairfield), Senators Wiener (D-San Francisco), Caballero (D-Merced), Skinner (D-Oakland), and Pro Tem Atkins (D-San Diego).