May 23, 2024

Governor Newsom signs bill to protect abortion care for Arizona patients in California

What to know: As Arizona leaders work to repeal and challenge the Arizona Supreme Court’s near-total abortion ban ruling, Governor Newsom today signed urgency legislation allowing Arizona doctors to immediately provide abortion care to Arizona patients on a temporary basis in California.

SACRAMENTO — Just one month after announcing critical reproductive freedom legislation with the Legislative Women’s Caucus, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed SB 233 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland) and Assembly Majority Leader Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) to allow Arizona abortion providers to temporarily provide abortion care to patients from Arizona who travel to California for that care. 

Last month, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to reimpose a regressive 1864 law imposing a near-total abortion ban and threatening to almost completely curtail access to abortion care in Arizona. Arizona’s leaders have been hard at work repealing the ban and challenging its enforcement in court. Meanwhile, Governor Newsom and the California Women’s Caucus acted swiftly to put in place a backstop for Arizonans by quickly passing urgent legislation through both houses and sending it to the Governor’s desk. 

The Governor’s signature on SB 233 will immediately allow Arizona abortion care providers in good standing to register to provide abortion care on a temporary basis in California to patients from Arizona. Today’s signing builds on the Governor’s historic efforts to defend and advance reproductive rights and women’s health care, even before the Supreme Court’s catastrophic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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

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

Governor Gavin Newsom

Why this matters

Arizona’s leaders have taken heroic steps to block the reimposition of the 1864 abortion ban. But given the uncertainty and confusion the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision has caused, California jumped in to assure Arizonans that they will continue to be able to access the reproductive health care they need and deserve if the 1864 ban goes into effect.

Governor Newsom, in partnership with the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, has temporarily authorized licensed Arizona abortion care providers in good standing to provide care to Arizonans here in California — meaning they could cross the border and continue to provide care legally to their Arizona patients. While enforcement of the 1864 bill remains uncertain, SB 233 provides a critical stopgap for Arizona patients and providers.

Now through November 30, 2024, Arizona doctors will be able to provide abortions and abortion-related care for Arizona patients in California if the absolute ban takes effect – even temporarily – and to facilitate continued access to care when Arizona’s 15-week ban goes into effect. California shares a roughly 200-mile-long border with Arizona.  Thanks to partners Essential Access and Red, Wine, and Blue, additional costs Arizona providers and patients would face would be offset through philanthropic funds.

“We live in a post-Roe world where women live without access to basic reproductive care and even face criminalization for seeking an abortion while the men who impregnate them face no scrutiny nor negative legislative consequences.

California will remain a safe harbor, ready to defend abortion access because we value women’s health and trust women to make the most intimate decision about their bodies, health, and futures.”

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Legislative leaders & abortion providers

California Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Senator Skinner: “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. 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.”

California Assembly Majority Leader Aguiar-Curry, Vice Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus: “For many years, but especially since the Dobbs decision, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus has led on all of the legislative responses to the attacks on abortion and reproductive rights. We have passed legislation to expand, protect, and strengthen access to reproductive health care in our state, including access to safe abortions for all Californians, and refugees from other states seeking such care. Arizona’s courts, however, think Arizonans should live in 1864. So, to Arizona people of child-bearing age, and those who love and support them, we have your back; At least until you get the chance to reverse this attack on your rights on the Arizona ballot this November.”

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President & CEO Jodi Hicks: “As we continue to navigate a chaotic national abortion landscape, we appreciate Governor Newsom and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus for their continued commitment to advocating for additional tools that support abortion providers’ ability to serve patients. Together, we will continue to work to ensure that all who are forced to leave their home state to access abortion care can get the services they need and deserve in California.”

California Medical Association President Dr. Tanya Spirtos: “As attacks on reproductive freedom continue to undermine decades of progress in women’s health care, the California Medical Association applauds Governor Newsom and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus for their swift action to ensure that our state remains a safe haven for all physicians who seek to provide vital, often life-saving reproductive health care, including abortions. We strongly believe that reproductive freedom is a fundamental human right and that personal medical decisions should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers.”

About the law

SB 233 will temporarily allow licensed Arizona doctors in good standing to provide abortion and abortion-related care to Arizona patients traveling to California through November 30, 2024. The Arizona doctors would be under the oversight of California’s Medical Board and Osteopathic Medical Board and would be required to first provide registration information to those boards before providing abortion care in California. The bill contains an urgency clause and takes effect immediately.

Arizona leaders 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. This bill is part of a shared effort to ensure that all Arizonans can continue to get the care they need.

Learn more about the new law →

Bigger picture

In the less than 2 years since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Governor Newsom, in partnership with the California Legislature, has built California into a national leader for reproductive freedom and expanded the fight nationwide through the 23-governor Reproductive Freedom Alliance.

People seeking abortion care or information about reproductive health care in California, should visit Abortion.CA.Gov.

For the bill text, visit: