California governor proposes allowing Arizona doctors to provide abortions in the state

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Doctors in Arizona could provide abortions to their patients in California under a proposal announced Wednesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom aimed at circumventing a near-total ban on abortions that is set to take effect in Arizona on June 8.

The proposal would only apply to doctors licensed in good standing in Arizona and their patients, and would last only through the end of November. Arizona’s 1864 law banning nearly all abortions except if the mother’s life is in jeopardy is set to take effect June 8. Newsom said protecting access to abortions is “just about basic decency” and “respect for women and girls.”

“This Arizona law is the first border-state law that will directly impact the state of California,” the Democratic governor said. “Rather than just acknowledging that fate and future, we’re trying to get ahead of this law.”

Newsom joined the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and advocates to announce the proposal. Lawmakers called the Arizona law “draconian” and said California had an obligation to get involved. The bill would need to pass by a two-thirds vote in each house of the Legislature before reaching Newsom’s desk. After he signs it, it would go into effect immediately.

Dr. Tanya Spirtos, a gynecologist and president of the California Medical Association, said it is unfortunate that Arizona abortion patients will have to travel out-of-state, but she’s proud to see California step in to assist them.

“All personal medical decisions, including those around abortion, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers,” Spirtos said. “By banning virtually all abortions in the state, the ruling will put physicians in harm’s way for simply providing often lifesaving medical care to their patients.”

The Arizona Supreme Court cleared the way earlier this month for the near-total ban to move forward. Besides Arizona, other states have banned abortion at all stages of pregnancy. While abortion access in California has never been under serious threat, Newsom — widely seen as a potential presidential candidate beyond 2024 — has made defending that access a priority of his administration.

Newsom pushed for abortion access to be enshrined into the California Constitution. He allocated taxpayer money to help pay for women in other states to come to California for abortions. He signed laws aimed at making it harder for other states to investigate women for coming to California for abortions, including banning social media companies from complying with warrants or subpoenas.

His actions have endeared him to the Democratic Party’s core constituencies despite some of the state’s other problems — including homelessness, wildfire insurance and a pair of multibillion-dollar budget deficits.

In 2022, months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, California launched a campaign to promote the state’s abortion services, including information about financial help for travel expenses and letting teenagers in other states know that California does not require them to have their parents’ permission to get an abortion in the state.

It’s also become a chief talking point in Newsom’s role as a top surrogate of President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. Using money left over from his 2022 reelection campaign, Newsom started a political action committee he calls the “Keep California Safe” that has paid for billboards and TV ads in Republican-led states to criticize their leaders’ attempts to outlaw or restrict access to abortions. In February, he launched ads to criticize proposals there that aimed to prohibit out-of-state travel for abortions.

When an Alabama lawmaker introduced a bill to make it a crime to help someone under 18 get an abortion without telling their parents or guardians, Newsom paid for an ad depicting a young woman trying to leave the state only to be stopped by a police officer who demands that she take a pregnancy test.


Associated Press writer Adam Beam contributed to this report.