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Joe Hernandez

California proposes law to allow Arizona doctors to perform abortions as ban proceeds

In a file photo from Nov. 6, 2022, California Gov. Gavin Newsom appears at a rally in support of Proposition 1, a state constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to abortion and contraception. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state is working on emergency legislation that would allow doctors from Arizona to come to California to provide abortions.

The announcement comes days after the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the state should follow a law from the 1860s that outlaws abortions in all cases except when the pregnant person's life is in danger.

Newsom, a Democrat, said Sunday during an appearance on MSNBC's Inside with Jen Psaki that California is in a position to help those who are set to lose the ability to have an abortion in neighboring Arizona.

"I think really we need to start focusing on making the kind of progress that's needed," Newsom said.

On Monday, Newsom spokesperson Brandon Richards told NPR via email that the administration was working closely with the California legislature on the proposal and also coordinating with the offices of Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs and Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, both of whom are Democrats.

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

The Arizona Supreme Court justices stayed enforcement of their April 9 ruling for 14 days and possibly longer, permitting abortions to continue for now.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in 2022 and eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion, a number of more conservative states have been limiting or banning the procedure, while other states have taken steps to protect reproductive rights, including California.

Over the weekend, Newsom also debuted a new TV ad through his Campaign for Democracy PAC that depicts a fictional scene of two women being pulled over by a police officer and asked to take a pregnancy test just before they can drive out of state.

According to the PAC, lawmakers in Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma have introduced legislation to bar minors from traveling out of state to get an abortion without parental consent.

All three states have among the "most restrictive" laws against abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights and tracks abortion laws across the U.S.

"Alabama's abortion ban has no exceptions for rape or incest. Now, Republicans are trying to criminalize young women's travel to receive abortion care," Newsom said in a post on X. "We cannot let them get away with this."

In November a federal judge temporarily blocked an Idaho law that was intended to prevent minors from going out of state to obtain abortions without parental consent.

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