Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

SACRAMENTO, California — Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The California law is intended to give Arizona residents the ability to get legal abortions from their doctors in the coming months, when almost all abortions in the state will be temporarily banned.

There is a law in Arizona – first passed in 1864, but not enforced for decades – that bans almost all abortions in the state. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the law would take effect in June after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states to set their own abortion laws.

The state legislature quickly voted to repeal that law, and Arizona’s Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, immediately signed it. But the repeal won’t take effect until September at the earliest, leaving a window of about three months during which most abortions would be banned in the state.

California’s new law, which takes effect immediately, allows licensed doctors in Arizona to come to California and perform abortions for their patients until the end of November. Licensed Arizona physicians would still have to fill out an application to perform abortions in California. But if the doctors meet certain requirements, the law directs California regulators to approve their applications within five business days.

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

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, more than two dozen states have begun enforcing abortion bans to varying degrees.

California has done the opposite, with Newsom promising to make the state a “haven” for people in other states seeking abortions. California has passed dozens of laws to protect access to abortion, including setting aside $20 million in taxpayer money to help patients in other states pay to travel to California to have an abortion.

The law Newsom signed Thursday does not include any new money to help Arizona patients travel to California for abortions. But Newsom worked with the advocacy group Red Wine and Blue to raise money from private donors to help Arizona patients travel to California.

The group, headquartered in Ohio and founded by the Arizona Freedom Trust, seeks to organize suburban women. According to its website, it had raised just over $111,000 toward its nearly $500,000 goal.

Newsom and his Democratic allies in the state legislature worked quickly to get this law passed. But some Republicans questioned its necessity. Last year, Arizona’s Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, signed an executive order banning local prosecutors from filing abortion-related charges.

Still, Democrats in the California Legislature felt the law was necessary. State Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat from Berkeley and author of the bill, said a law is stronger than an executive order from a governor.

“California has once again made it crystal clear to anyone who needs or provides essential reproductive care: we have your back,” Skinner said.

The law says Arizona doctors must tell California regulators where they plan to perform abortions in the state. But the law prohibits California regulators from publishing on their website any information about Arizona doctors other than the doctor’s name, status and license number.