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California Gov. Newsom Proposes Bill to Help Arizonans Seeking Abortion Care

The bill is a response to Arizona’s abortion ban, which will likely prompt abortion seekers to travel to California.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks onstage during the Clinton Global Initiative September 2023 Meeting September 18, 2023 in New York City.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is set to propose new legislation that would allow Arizona abortion providers to become certified faster within California.

Newsom has said that the bill is necessary because of an 1864 anti-abortion statute that will soon be re-implemented in the Grand Canyon State, and the high likelihood that Arizonans will travel to California in the months afterward seeking abortion care. It’s also possible that abortion providers in Arizona may soon move to California, knowing that they could be criminally prosecuted in their current state.

The proposal, which Newsom first discussed during an MSNBC interview on Sunday, would expedite the process for abortion providers from Arizona to become providers in California. If the bill passes, the certification process could take as little as five to 10 days, Newsom said.

“I think really we need to start focusing on making the kind of progress that’s needed” relating to expanding access to abortion care, he went on.

Newsom will submit the bill, with the help of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, as an emergency measure. It is highly probable that the bill will pass, as Democrats have a majority in both houses in the state legislature and the legislature has passed dozens of laws protecting and expanding abortion since 2022.

Newsom’s formal announcement of the bill and its exact details will be made during a press conference on Wednesday morning.

Brandon Richards, a spokesperson for Newsom, provided a statement to Politico about why California is pursuing the bill:

“Arizona AG Kris Mayes identified a need to expedite the ability for Arizona abortion providers to continue to provide care to Arizonans as a way to support patients in their state seeking abortion care in California,” Richards said, adding that California lawmakers “are responding to this call.”

Arizona’s anti-abortion law makes exceptions only in cases when a pregnant person’s life is at risk. Even then, as evidenced in states with similar abortion restrictions, exceptions for emergencies are rarely allowed in practice, as providers are fearful their actions could still be viewed as illegal by the state.

The law first passed in 1864, nearly 50 years before Arizona became a state. It was last reaffirmed in 1913.

Earlier in April, the Arizona state Supreme Court said that the law was back in force due to the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022, as the state had never passed an affirmative abortion law, only laws in response to federal abortion protections.

Arizona voters will likely get the opportunity to reaffirm abortion rights when they head to the polls in November, as a constitutional initiative measure is set to be included on the ballot. The amendment would restore abortion access up to the point of fetal viability, generally regarded as around 22-25 weeks of pregnancy, and would allow abortions after that point in cases of rape or incest, when necessary to save the life of a pregnant person, or to protect a pregnant person’s physical or mental health, based on the “good faith judgment” of their care providers.