California pushes through Gavin Newsom’s bill helping Arizona abortion-seekers

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California bill aiming to help Arizona abortion seekers by allowing doctors from that state to operate across the border has landed on Gov. Gavin Newson’s desk, just a month after he first floated the proposal.

Once signed, Senate Bill 233 would offer an expedited pathway for licensed doctors in Arizona to get their credentials in California, with a nonprofit offering to pay the fees to do so.

The state Senate held a final vote of 30-8 on Tuesday after it already passed the state Assembly. Newsom is expected to sign the bill when he returns to California from a trip to the Vatican this week and it would take effect immediately.

"As much as we talk about women's rights, the decision over one's own body is still in question in the United States," said state Sen. Aisha Wahab. "California is a state where we try to provide for every single community, especially our neighbors who are suffering."

Newsom’s proposal came in direct response to a Civil War-era abortion ban that was recently upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court and later repealed by that state’s legislature. Nonetheless, the Arizona ban could still stay in place for weeks if not months due to legislative procedures, and Newsom argues California could fill a critical gap for abortion seekers looking for care during that time.

Sacramento has been preparing for an increased demand from out-of-state patients since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortions in 2022. The California legislature has passed roughly two dozen laws to bolster abortion rights and care as well as set aside more than $200 million to shore up the state’s abortion infrastructure.

But the state has also struggled to build new clinics and train new providers. The governor’s office believes allowing doctors from Arizona to treat patients across the border could help ease the strain.

Planned Parenthood of California has pushed back on that narrative, saying the state’s network of abortion providers is strong enough to accommodate the nation’s abortion seekers.

“To be clear, Planned Parenthood in California has been preparing for and already absorbing more out-of-state patients for several years,” spokesperson Shelby McMichael told POLITICO in a statement.

“PPAC welcomes any additional statewide tools that support abortion providers and our collective ability to serve patients—no matter the state they call home.”