Newsom expected to sign law that would roll back coroner investigations into criminal abortions

Current law requires coroner inquiries; new rule would remove requirement, prohibit medical testimony.

Updated: September 1, 2022 - 2:19pm

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign into law a measure that would significantly roll back coroner investigations into possible criminal abortions within the state, a move that comes as Democratic lawmakers there are scrambling to transform the state into an "abortion sanctuary" in the post-Roe v. Wade United States. 

Current California law requires county coroners to hold inquiries into suspected self-induced and/or criminal abortions. AB 2223, which is headed to Newsom's desk to sign, would significantly alter state law in that respect. 

The new bill, if it becomes law, would "delete the requirement that a coroner hold inquests for deaths related to or following known or suspected self-induced or criminal abortion," as well "delete the requirement that an unattended fetal death be handled as a death without medical attendance."

The bill would further prohibit "using the coroner's statements on the certificate of fetal death to establish, bring, or support a criminal prosecution or civil cause of damages" against pregnant women who obtain abortions. 

The measure comes amid other bills aimed at broadening abortion rights in California, including one that would deregulate the procedure to allow nurse practitioners to abort fetuses in the first trimester.

After the repeal of Roe v. Wade in June, Newsom declared that California would "continue to be a safe haven for all women seeking reproductive health care services in our state."

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