Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel Responds to False and Misleading Attacks By Anti-Choice Activists

Thursday, March 7, 2019

SACRAMENTO – In light of recent false and misleading attacks by anti-choice activists, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D – San Fernando Valley) today spoke out about Assembly Bill (AB) 624, which would require schools serving grades 7-12, as well as institutions of higher education, to include the phone numbers for sexual assault, domestic violence, and reproductive healthcare hotlines on student ID cards. AB 624 builds on SB 972, signed into law by Governor Brown in 2018, which requires that schools provide the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on student ID cards.

In recent days, numerous anti-choice activists and publications have attacked AB 624—which applies to both public and private schools—as unconstitutional and have argued that the legislation would “forc[e] every student to join an abortion sales team” and is intended to promote and “reward” Planned Parenthood for supporting Assemblymember Gabriel’s campaign.

In addressing these attacks, Assemblymember Gabriel made the following remarks: “The attacks on AB 624 are offensive, misleading, and flat out wrong. I’m proud to be a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive freedom, but AB 624 is not an effort to promote any particular organization or viewpoint. It’s an effort to ensure that students—especially those facing a challenging situation involving domestic violence, sexual assault, or sexual health—are able to access timely and accurate information that may be essential to their physical or mental health.”

“The overreaction and mischaracterization by anti-choice activists is disturbing. It’s alarming how hard they are willing to fight to prevent young people from accessing even basic contact information if it might provide them with the option of learning more about reproductive health.” Assemblymember Gabriel also noted that leading experts in constitutional law have soundly rejected the argument that AB 624 is unconstitutional.

“I have reviewed the proposed legislation and think that it is clearly constitutional,” said distinguished constitutional scholar and UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. “It simply requires that schools make easily available to students important contact numbers.”

Professor Leah Litman, a constitutional scholar at UC Irvine School of Law and a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, offered a similar assessment. “AB 624 is plainly constitutional under existing doctrine,” said Professor Litman. “It is content neutral—it does not require anyone to convey a particular message. It merely requires schools to provide contact information for a variety of services that students may wish to learn more about or need.”