Legal Summaries

Background on California Law

Abortion is first and foremost a health care procedure.  Like all other aspects of health care, abortion care is governed by a complex system of state, federal and local laws, from those regulating the licensure of clinics and the practice of medicine at the state level to federal laws requiring hospitals to stabilize patients experiencing medical emergencies.  The process of locating laws related to abortion and reproductive health care in California reminds us that reproductive health issues are connected to many aspects of our lives.  The Handbook covers statutes located in California’s Family Code, Health and Safety Code, Business and Professions Code, Civil Code, Education Code, Government Code, Penal Code, Probate Code, and Welfare and Institutions Code, as well as regulations promulgated by the boards and agencies charged with interpreting and implementing these laws.

Even with this broad overview, we clearly have not included all relevant laws.  For instance, we touch only briefly on scope of practice for health care professionals, and we do not cover clinic licensure, medical malpractice, or protections for reproductive health workers in this first version of the Handbook.   Our focus on California law necessitates the inclusion of certain federal laws that trump or complement state laws and, therefore, affect California practice, such as the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban and the Born Alive Infant Protection Act; however, we do not provide an exhaustive review of federal precedent.  Finally, we recognize that you may not find clear answers to all of your legal questions in the chapters that follow.  This Handbook provides legal information only (not legal advice or analysis); where legal interpretations and institutional practice may vary or where laws were written to allow clinicians to exercise their professional judgment, we provide only the information available under California’s current judicial, legislative and administrative guidance.

Procedural Information
Information relating to abortion procedures.

Patients
Information relating to patients and specific patient population.

Providers
Information about provider requirements and legal refusals.

  • Who May Provide Abortions
  • Nursing and Abortion (CNMs, NPs, and RNs) (coming soon)
  • Physician Assistants and Abortion (coming soon)
  • Residency/Medical School Education (coming soon)
  • Refusals: Individual and Institutional (coming soon)

Funding
Information relating to funding for abortions at the state and federal levels.

  • Federal Funding Restrictions (coming soon)
  • State Funding Under Medi-Cal (coming soon)