Blue state gov signs bill to help doctors evade neighboring state's abortion law: 'Oppressive and dangerous'

Abortionists in Arizona can now travel to California to evade a reinstated 160-year-old, pre-statehood law that outlaws abortions in nearly all circumstances and criminalizes abortions.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who just returned from speaking at the Vatican Climate Summit in Rome, signed Senate Bill 233 on Thursday afternoon. 

“Arizona Republicans tried to turn back the clock to 1864 to impose a near-total abortion ban across their state,” Newsom said in a statement. “We refuse to stand by and acquiesce to their oppressive and dangerous attacks on women.”

Newsom, who championed the bill with the state’s women’s caucus following the news of Arizona’s Supreme Court ruling, said he’s “grateful” to “provide this backstop.” 

“California stands ready to protect reproductive freedom,” he said.

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SB 233, authored by Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner, will immediately shield Arizona abortionists from penalties in their home state and allow them to “temporarily” perform abortions on Arizonian women in the Golden State. The bill passed the state Senate this week after it had already cleared the Assembly.

“With Governor Newsom’s signature on SB 233, our Arizona sisters can come to California to get the health care they need from their own doctors, who they know and rely on,” Skinner, who chairs the women’s legislative caucus, said Thursday. “And their Arizona doctors can come to California without fear of spending 2 to 5 years in prison — the penalty under Arizona’s 1864 law.  Once again, California has made it crystal clear for all those who need or deliver essential reproductive care: We’ve got your back.”

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This month, the pro-abortion governor furthered his national campaign for abortion by releasing an ad targeting Alabama Republicans opposing a bill permitting women to seek abortions out of state. The ad, which shows a police officer pulling over a woman and handing her a pregnancy test, states, “Trump Republicans want to criminalize young Alabama women who travel for reproductive care.”

California was one of several blue states that expanded abortion access following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in summer 2022. In an interview with MSNBC host Jen Psaki on Sunday, Newsom cited efforts in Tennessee, Idaho and Oklahoma to restrict abortion as attacks “happening in real time,” and stated the “response must be in real time to be more assertive and proactive.”

The Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling in April reverting the state back to a pre-statehood near-total abortion ban. The law would also make it a felony for anyone who “provides, supplies or administers to a pregnant woman, or procures such woman to take any medicine, drugs or substance, or uses or employs any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life,” potentially carrying a prison sentence between 2 and 5 years.

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The law, which was codified in 1913 after Arizona became a state, includes an exception in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.

Last month, the Democrat-controlled California legislature shot down a bill that would have required 7-12th-grade curriculum to incorporate details about free resources available at pro-life pregnancy care centers. 

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