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Published on May 24, 2024
California Opens Doors to Arizona Doctors for Abortion Services Amid Legal GapSource: Governor Gavin Newsom

In a move to safeguard reproductive rights for Arizonans, California's Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill allowing Arizona doctors to perform abortions in the Golden State. This legislative action, announced Thursday, responds to a gap in abortion access created by an Arizona law set to temporarily ban most abortions come June, as a long-dormant 1864 ban is resurrected in the post-Roe landscape.

The Arizona Supreme Court's decision to enforce the historical ban follows the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade, which shifted the power to regulate abortions to individual states. While Arizona's lawmakers repealed the antiquated prohibition, the updated legislation won't take effect until at least September – leaving a critical, approximately three-month period when access to abortion services in Arizona is expected to be drastically limited.

California's timely law, effective immediately, will enable licensed Arizona physicians to perform abortions for their patients in California through November's end. As stated by AZPM News, these doctors must apply for California's approval, with the state's regulators directed to review and approve eligible applications within five days.

"California stands ready to protect reproductive freedom," Newsom declared, reinforcing California's commitment as a sanctuary for those in need of abortion services. To this end, Newsom has partnered with Red Wine and Blue, an advocacy group that has raised over $111,000 out of a nearly $500,000 target to aid Arizona patients in traveling to California. These initiatives underscore California's divergent path to more than 20 states enacting varying degrees of abortion restrictions since the fall of federal abortion rights.

Despite skepticism from some Republican legislators about the necessity of the new law, given Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs' executive order barring local prosecutors from filing abortion-related charges last year, Democratic State Sen. Nancy Skinner underscored the importance of legislative action. "Once again California has made it crystal clear for all who need or deliver essential reproductive care: We've got your back," Skinner told AZPM News.

Regulations under the new law mandate that Arizona doctors disclose to California regulators the locations where they plan to perform abortions. However, in a measure to maintain a degree of confidentiality, the law restricts California from publicizing any details about these doctors, except for their name, status, and license number.