SAN JOSE, Calif. - A new state bill has been proposed that will prohibit bounty hunters from apprehending people from other states who seek abortions or gender-affirming care in California. Multiple states have made it a crime to receive or perform an abortion since the overturning of Roe v Wade.
Thirteen states currently have laws making it a felony to receive or perform an abortion. That means if found liable, judges in those states can issue a warrant for the person’s arrest.
"They get paid for turning people in where there are search warrants. So we want to stop that ability for any bounty hunter to get paid to try and apprehend someone in California," said State Sen. Nancy Skinner, District 9.
Skinner recently introduced Assembly Bill 36 or the "Safe Haven Bill". The law would prohibit bail agents and bounty hunters from arresting someone in California if they’ve received or performed an abortion in another state. It also protects those seeking gender-affirming healthcare from arrest.
If passed, bail agents could face a fine, up to a year in jail, or have their license revoked.
"We want to make it clear to everyone across the country that California is safe for you. We respect those rights, and we believe it is not government's responsibility, it is not government's role, to interfere with your reproductive choices or your gender identity choices," Skinner said.
In response to the proposed bill, pro-life organization California Family Council and its president Jonathan Keller released this statement saying:
"This unconstitutional proposal threatens the full-faith-and-credit clause, one of the core tenets of our federal system. After the Dobbs decision, states are completely within their rights to outlaw the killing of unborn children, as well as the use of dangerous sterilizing drugs and mutilating surgeries associated with gender-affirming care. Bills like SB 36 could have disastrous effects if other states respond to California's brinksmanship."
The Right to Life League also released a statement opposing the bill.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that at least four states have passed laws banning gender-affirming care and 15 other states are considering passing similar laws.
Former prosecutor and legal analyst Steve Clark says if this bill passes, it may put the state in a precarious position.
"You could see other states saying to Californians: you won’t enforce our laws and help us catch fugitives, we won’t catch fugitives in our states, and it doesn’t matter what the crime is. That could be a big political fight," Clark said.
The California Bail Agents Association also says they don’t want to be dragged into the middle of the abortion issue, and they think this bill could have a negative impact.
The Safe Haven bill is expected to go to the committee in March next year.