Abortion advocates release plan to make California a 'sanctuary' for the procedure

shutterstock 1124432339 Govenor Gavin Newsom of California. | Karl_Sonnenberg/Shutterstock

A coalition of abortion advocates in California have introduced a plan to make the state a “sanctuary” for women seeking the procedure, should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn legalized abortion nationwide. 

“We’ll be a sanctuary,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. Newsom founded the California Future of Abortion Council, which released the 45-point plan this week. The governor told the AP that some of the report’s suggestions would be included in his next budget proposal.

The recommendations include the possibility of subsidizing travel, lodging, and childcare for people traveling from other states to procure an abortion. The report also recommends an extension of California’s Medicaid coverage of abortion to include low-income patients from other states who would qualify for coverage if they were residents, according to the AP. 

Other recommendations include scholarships and student loan assistance for medical students who agree to perform abortions in rural parts of California.  

“It is imperative that California take the lead, live up to its proclamation as a ‘Reproductive Freedom State,’ and be ready to serve anyone who seeks abortion services in the state,” the report reads. 

The Supreme Court is considering a case out of Mississippi that has the potential of overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. If Roe is overturned, abortion regulation will return to the state level. Abortion would immediately become unlawful in about a dozen states, and women in those states could travel out of state to procure an abortion.

Patients from out of state seem to account for a small percentage of abortions in California today. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that more than 132,000 abortions were performed in California in 2017. Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the state, reportedly saw some 7,000 patients from other states in 2020. 

But Planned Parenthood affiliates reportedly saw an uptick in patients from Texas this fall, after the state passed its ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, abortion advocates in California anticipate a similar influx of patients from out of state.

“We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections,” Newsom told the AP. 

Pro-life advocates in California are similarly mobilizing. Many pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the state are reportedly planning to increase their staff if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

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