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UC HEALTH AND LGBTQ, REPRODUCTIVE ISSUES
Via Hannah Wiley…
California lauds itself as a champion of reproductive freedom laws, a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ community and a state teeming with reputable, cutting-edge medical institutions.
Among those top medical facilities are University of California Health centers, “ranked among the best in California” and throughout the country.
Yet state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, is contending with new legislation that certain UC Health contracts jeopardize that reputation by partnering with facilities that prohibit abortion and gender-affirming care services.
These contracts — most often with Catholic-affiliated institutions like Dignity Health— leave too many Californians vulnerable to “non-science based restrictions” on their medical needs, Wiener said during a Wednesday press call.
“We’re not talking about just appropriate healthcare, but medically necessary,” Wiener said. “The fact that a UC medical professional would not be able to provide that care I think, honestly, is completely outrageous.”
Wiener said he’s introducing the bill after years of inaction by UC Health on the issue.
The UC’s Working Group on Comprehensive Access in a 2019 report did not make a conclusive recommendation on how the system should engage with Catholic hospitals. Instead of answering the question of whether these contracts should be allowed, the group split into two factions without presenting any final option.
“Some members of the working group believed that such policy-based restrictions on care raised sufficient concerns that UC should not affiliate with such an organization,” the report included. “Others believed that the University should be allowed to pursue such affiliations under new principles and guidelines designed to be fully responsive to the president’s charge.”
Wiener said that the issue demands a legislative solution to ensure future contracts always allow for “reproductive and LGBTQ inclusive care,” including contraception, abortion and miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy treatment.
Without such a solution, Wiener and bill sponsors Equality California, NARAL Pro-Choice California and ACLU argued, UC can’t claim itself as an advocate for these communities.
“The University of California is world-renowned for its leadership in comprehensive reproductive and LGBTQ-inclusive care,” said Shannon Olivieri Hovis, NARAL’s California director. “Which makes contracts that limit the ability of UC doctors and students to provide basic reproductive and gender-affirming care all the more troubling.”
OFFSHORE WIND LEGISLATION TO BE ANNOUNCED
Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, is set to unveil new legislation touching on offshore wind power during a press conference on Thursday.
The legislation is co-sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and Environment California, and supported by a coalition of labor, environmental and clean energy groups, according to a statement released announcing the event.
“While California’s landmark climate legislation, SB 100 (2018), set a state goal of transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2045, the state is no longer on pace to meet that target; state agencies need clear guidance and direction to get back on track. Assemblymember Chiu’s bill sets an ambitious but achievable planning goal for developing a new, large-scale offshore wind industry in California that will be a critical source of clean, reliable energy — while creating thousands of well-paying local jobs,” the statement read.
Speaking Thursday at 10:30 a.m. (via Zoom) will be Chiu, as well as Robbie Hunter of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, Daniel Osborn Mills of American Clean Power – California, Laura Deehan of Environment California and TIm Cremins of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
COVID-19 FUNERAL EXPENSES
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover up to $7,000 in COVID-19-related funeral expenses, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, announced on Wednesday.
The $2 billion fund was inspired by legislation authored by Lee and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last May. The funding is retroactive to Jan. 20, 2020, and covers up until Dec. 31 of that year.
“No one should struggle to afford a proper funeral for a loved one. During this time of unprecedented pain and economic hardship, it’s a moral imperative that the federal government step in and provide relief,” Lee said in a statement. “FEMA is authorized for $2 billion as of right now and it is retroactive, reimbursing back to January 2020. Those interested in participating in the program will need expense documentation, a death certificate, and other personal information documents.”
The legislation was inspired by a similar bill passed after Hurricane Katrina.
“This must be a top priority in our response to this crisis. I’m proud to have partnered with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Schumer on this crucial relief measure for families in California and across the country already beset by unimaginable grief. While the details for this plan are still evolving, I will be reaching out to my constituents as more information becomes available,” Lee said.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“As horrific as Jan. 6th was, we all know that awful day could have been even worse. The only reason it was not was because of the extraordinary bravery of our law enforcement. May we do all we can to ensure this never happens again.”
– Congressman Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, via Twitter. Swalwell is one of the impeachment managers prosecuting the case against former President Donald Trump.
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