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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Newsom signs bill allowing Arizona doctors to offer abortions in California

Under the emergency law, Arizona doctors in good standing will be able to provide abortions to Arizonans traveling to California through Nov. 30.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill Thursday immediately allowing Arizona doctors to travel to the Golden State and perform abortions for their patients, for most of the remaining year.

Senate Bill 233 — from state Senator Nancy Skinner and Assembly Majority Leader Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, both Democrats from Oakland and Winters respectively — got moving in April in response to an Arizona Supreme Court ruling that revived an almost complete abortion ban from 1864.

Under the Civil War-era law, someone who performs or helps someone get an abortion in Arizona would face a felony charge and two to five years in prison if convicted. 

California’s new law will allow licensed Arizona abortion providers to temporarily provide abortion care to patients from Arizona who travel to California for those services, through Nov. 30. The doctors will operate under the oversight of California’s Medical Board and Osteopathic Medical Board, and must provide registration information before providing abortion care in California. 

The new law shows that the state is a leader in reproductive care, the bill's authors say.

“Arizona Republicans tried to turn back the clock to 1864 to impose a near-total abortion ban across their state,” Newsom said Thursday. “We refuse to stand by and acquiesce to their oppressive and dangerous attacks on women. I'm grateful for the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and all our partners for moving quickly to provide this backstop.”

Though Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs repealed the 1864 ban in early May, the repeal won’t take effect for 90 days after the end of the state's legislative session, which could last into August and possibly conflict with the law's June 8 start date.

First partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who has been outspoken about women’s rights and access to reproductive health care, said that California must uphold its place as a “safe harbor” for people seeking access to abortion and needing privacy to do so.

“We live in a post-Roe world where women live without access to basic reproductive care and even face criminalization for seeking an abortion while the men who impregnate them face no scrutiny nor negative legislative consequences,” she said Thursday. 

Newsom also said that, thanks to a partnership with the organizations Essential Access and Red, Wine, and Blue, philanthropic funds will offset additional costs Arizona providers and patients would face.

California Medical Association President Dr. Tanya Spirtos said that the association supports the swift decision to make the bill effective immediately.

 “We strongly believe that reproductive freedom is a fundamental human right and that personal medical decisions should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers,” Spirtos said Thursday. 

Skinner said that her bill will ensure that, for now, Arizona residents will not lose their right to make private decisions about their reproductive health with their providers. 

“Once again, California has made it crystal clear for all those who need or deliver essential reproductive care: We’ve got your back,” Skinner said. 

Arizona doctors will have to meet certain criteria under the new law, like having a medical license in good standing from their state. They also must have performed at least one abortion in Arizona within the past two years. They also must provide their Arizona and temporary California addresses, as well as an affidavit stating they meet all requirements.

Giving false information in that affidavit could lead to a maximum $10,000 fine, a year in jail, or both.

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Categories / Government, Health

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