Apr 23, 2024 - News

CA lawmakers working to improve abortion access for out-of-state patients

Data: Guttmacher Institute; Note: Data unavailable for D.C.; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios Visuals

State lawmakers are working on a bill that would allow doctors from Arizona to legally come to California to perform abortions, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) revealed Sunday.

The big picture: Newsom is stepping up efforts to access abortions, while also targeting Republicans in other states who've moved to restrict or effectively ban the procedure.

  • He unveiled an ad aimed at Alabama lawmakers who are pushing to criminalize people who help minors obtain interstate abortions.

Catch up quick: California was one of several "blue" states that expanded abortion access protections following the Supreme Court's decision in the 2022 Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade.

What they're saying: "In the midst of this chaotic landscape, any tool at the disposal of abortion providers to make sure care continues for all who seek it in California is welcome," Jennifer Wonnacott, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, told Axios via email regarding the bill.

Driving the news: During an interview on MSNBC's "Inside with Jen Psaki" on Sunday, Newsom said attacks on abortion are "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."

By the numbers: Abortions provided to patients traveling from other states more than doubled in California — from 2,270 in 2020 to 5,160 in 2023 — according to a new analysis by The Guttmacher Institute.

  • About 3% of California's abortion patients traveled from out of state in 2023.
  • Overall, there were 24,360 more abortions in California in 2023 than in 2020 — a 16% increase.
  • More travel from out of state accounted for 12% of that overall increase in California abortions, per Guttmacher, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
Estimated change in abortions in formal health care system, 2020 to 2023
Data: Guttmacher Institute; Map: Axios Visuals

Flashback: For decades before the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade protected abortion rights, San Diego was a haven for pregnant women seeking abortions through illegal underground clinics.

What we're watching: The governor's office is working with state lawmakers, the Arizona governor's office and respective state attorneys general on the emergency legislation.

  • Brandon Richards, a spokesperson for Newsom, told Axios they "will have more details to share in the coming days."

Go deeper: How Newsom is defending and bolstering abortion access

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