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California Gov. Gavin Newsom Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Tuesday requiring health plans to cover the cost of vasectomies beginning in 2024.

Dubbed the “Contraceptive Equity Act,” SB523 requires health plans to cover the reversible sterilization procedure for men without charging co-pays. The new law expands upon the federal Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most health plans cover the cost of women’s birth control.

The new law also requires coverage of over-the-counter birth control “without cost sharing or medical management restrictions.”

“SB 523 will help ensure equitable access to contraception, as well as solidify California’s rightful place as a national leader in reproductive freedom,” said the bill’s author, Democrat Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino, in a statement. “It is critical that Californians be able to decide — for themselves — if and when they have children.”

Newsom signed the new law as part of a slew of measures to ensure and expand abortion access in California, including laws that protect people from criminal and civil liability for abortion, including regarding out-of-state requests for prosecution.

The bill package amounts to what is considered “some of the strongest abortion protections in the nation,” in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June. Since then, Newsom has worked to make California an abortion “sanctuary” state, and has gone so far as to plant billboards in red states that compare abortion restrictions to handcuffing women.

“An alarming number of states continue to outlaw abortion and criminalize women, and it’s more important than ever to fight like hell for those who need these essential services,” Newsom said in a statement on the new laws. “Our Legislature has been on the frontlines of this fight, and no other legislative body in the country is doing more to protect these fundamental rights.”

Ensuring access to abortion and contraception would help reinforce, if not exacerbate, an already-declining California population. Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) demographer Hans Johnson has observed that “lower levels of international migration, declining birth rates, and increases in deaths all play a role” in the state’s population drop.

“But the primary driver of the state’s population loss over the past couple years has been the result of California residents moving to other states,” Johnson wrote in late March.