Newsom tries to protect abortion rights for Arizona, not just CA

Gov. Gavin Newsom sought to make California a haven for abortion rights. Now he’s trying to bring women in neighboring Arizona under those protections.

Wednesday, members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and Newsom formally introduced a bill that would enable Arizona doctors to temporarily provide abortion services for their patients traveling to California through Nov. 30.

The measure, Senate Bill 233, is in direct response to an Arizona Supreme Court ruling earlier this month upholding an 1864 abortion ban, which goes into effect on June 8. Efforts to repeal the ban are underway; a bill to reverse the court’s ruling heads to Arizona’s Senate after advancing through its House, reports The New York Times.

• Newsom, at the press conference: “When you’re the size of 21 state populations combined, we have more at stake than any other state in America. A third of the patients that are served by Planned Parenthood alone are here in the state of California. No state has more to do, and more responsibility to promote what needs to be done than our state.”

The gut-and-amend bill is carried by women’s caucus chairperson Sen. Nancy Skinner of Oakland and vice chairperson Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry of Davis, both Democrats, and is currently in the Assembly awaiting its next vote. It requires Arizona doctors “in good standing” to provide registration information to California’s Medical Board and Osteopathic Medical Board. After they are approved, the doctors could legally treat their patients in California.

A women’s advocacy nonprofit, Red Wine & Blue, has contributed $100,000 so far to effort. The fund will go towards compensating Arizona physicians who provide abortions to “income eligible Arizona residents in California,” said Katie Paris, the nonprofit’s founder, in an email to CalMatters.

Given the tight time window, the proposal includes an urgency clause (which means it needs a two-thirds majority in both chambers to pass) and would take effect immediately once Newsom signs it.

Attorney General Rob Bonta also released a memo Tuesday, reminding residents and doctors about the state’s abortion protection laws. Referencing Idaho’s abortion ban that the U.S. Supreme Court heard on Wednesday, Bonta said that doctors from states where abortion is illegal “are welcome in California.”

• Bonta, in a statement: “From Idaho to Arizona, draconian abortion bans implemented nationwide have put millions of lives at risk…. We can and will ensure that our state continues to be a safe haven for all providers of essential reproductive healthcare.”

Meanwhile: With a Friday deadline looming for bills that cost money to make it out of their first policy committee, there was lots of other activity at the Legislature on Wednesday.

• Jobless aid for strikers: The Senate labor committee passed a bill to grant striking workers unemployment benefits. During the hearing, the bill’s co-author, Democratic Sen. Anthony Portantino of Glendale, said the proposal is the “humane, dignified, appropriate thing to do.” Earlier at the state Capitol, he promoted the bill with its other co-author, Sen. María Elena Durazo of Los Angeles, and the California Labor Federation. Newsom vetoed similar legislation last year.

• Driverless trucks: Another proposal vetoed by Newsom last year was approved by the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance. The measure would put limitations on self-driving trucks, such as requiring a backup “human safety operator” inside the truck while it’s in operation. It would also mandate autonomous vehicle makers to submit annual reports to the Department of Motor Vehicles about vehicles that had their autonomous mode deactivated. “This technology has great potential…” said Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, the bill’s author, but “we need the data collection and reporting.”

• Domestic violence: CalMatters Digital Democracy reporter Ryan Sabalow dives into SB 989, a bill to allow families of domestic violence victims the right to request additional scrutiny of death investigations they deem suspicious. It would also provide training for police officers to spot cover-ups of domestic violence murders. After the proposal passed the public safety committee, it advanced through the judiciary committee Tuesday. The bill is supported by Sacramento Fire Capt. Joseph Hunter, whose sister died in 2011 after she sought restraining orders against her husband. Though the Solano County Coroner’s Office declared her death a suicide, an investigation into her death by the county sheriff’s office has been reopened for the third time. Learn more.

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