Arizona doctors can enter California to perform abortions under new law

California’s law is meant to circumvent an Arizona law that bans nearly all abortions in that state.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom
Posted at 4:30 PM, May 23, 2024

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

California’s law is meant to circumvent an Arizona law — first passed in 1864 — that bans nearly all abortions in that state. The Arizona Supreme Court had ruled that law can take effect next month.

The Arizona Legislature responded by repealing that law earlier this month. But the repeal won’t take effect until 90 days after the end of Arizona's legislative session, which usually happens in June or July.

The Newsom administration said California's law is “a critical stopgap for Arizona patients and providers.”

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“I’m grateful for the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and all our partners for moving quickly to provide this backstop,” Newsom said. “California stands ready to protect reproductive freedom.”

Since the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, more than 20 states began enforcing abortion bans of varying degrees.

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

Newsom and his Democratic allies in the state Legislature worked quickly to get this law passed. But some Republicans questioned the need for it. Last year, Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed an executive order barring local prosecutors from bringing abortion-related charges.

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

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

California's law says Arizona doctors who are licensed in that state can come to California to perform abortions through Nov. 30.

Licensed Arizona doctors would have to apply to the Medical Board of California or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California. The law requires California regulators to approve those requests within five days.

The law says Arizona doctors would have to tell California regulators where they planned to perform abortions in the state. But the law bars California regulators from publishing any information on their website about Arizona doctors aside from the doctor's name, status and license number.