Updated Apr 22, 2024 - Health

Newsom hits Republicans on abortion restriction pushes

California Governor Gavin Newsom attends an event with fellow governors in the East Room of the White House on February 23, 2024 in Washington, DC.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is stepping up abortion access efforts while targeting Republicans in other states who've moved to restrict the procedure.

The big picture: Newsom revealed Sunday that California lawmakers are working on a bill to ensure Arizona providers can provide abortion care to Arizonans in his state and unveiled an ad aimed at Alabama lawmakers who are pushing to criminalize people who help minors obtain interstate abortions.

Driving the news: During an interview on MSNBC's "Inside with Jen Psaki" Sunday, Newsom cited moves to restrict abortions in Idaho, Oklahoma and Tennessee and noted attacks on access were "happening in real time," so the "response must be in real time to be more assertive and proactive."

  • He added: "We're already dealing with the absorption of people seeking reproductive care in the state of California. It's up by 17% post-Dobbs in this state."

State of play: The ad that will air in Alabama on Monday that states "Trump Republicans want to criminalize young Alabama women who travel for reproductive care" echoes one that Newsom's political action committee Campaign for Democracy ran in Tennessee in February.

  • "Not enough attention has been placed on the fact that we're not just criminalizing women's access to reproductive care in certain states, now we're criminalizing their travel," Newsom told MSNBC's Jen Psaki.
  • Newsom said his decision to work on the Arizona bill took inspiration from Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake, who suggested after criticizing the state Supreme Court for upholding a near-total abortion ban that Arizonans could cross the border to California for the procedure.
  • "We took that quite literally and quite seriously," Newsom said from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Sacramento.

Zoom in: Brandon Richards, a spokesperson for Newsom, said in an emailed statement early Monday that the governor's office was working closely with state lawmakers in coordination with the Arizona governor's office and respective state attorneys general on the emergency legislation.

  • "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," he said.
  • "We are responding to this call and will have more details to share in the coming days."

What we're watching: Newsom, who's a surrogate for President Biden's re-election campaign, said there would be an electoral focus on Arizona and Nevada, swing "states that will play potentially an outsized role in this election."

Context: Organizers in Nevada have been gathering signatures to get a "Right to Reproductive Freedom" amendment on the ballot.

Zoom out: During his MSNBC interview, Newsom called former President Trump a "liar" over the presumptive Republican nominee's declaration that he wouldn't sign a federal abortion ban into law.

  • "He's not telling you the truth. He's not level setting. He'll say whatever he needs to say on any day of the week," Newsom said.
  • "He's created these conditions. He's celebrated those conditions," added Newsom in reference to Trump giving himself credit for the Supreme Court's decision on Dobbs.

The other side: Trump campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt said in a statement to the Washington Post that the former president "has repeatedly said he will not sign a federal abortion ban and has long been consistent in supporting the rights of states to make decisions on abortion."

Go deeper: Abortion-rights groups get signal boost after Florida, Arizona rulings

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further comment from California Gov. Gavin Newsom and statements from Trump campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt and Brandon Richards, a spokesperson for Newsom.

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