California plans to become abortion ‘sanctuary’ if Supreme Court overturns Roe

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – With more than two dozen states set to ban abortion if the United States Supreme Court gives them the green light next year, California clinics and their allies within from the state legislature on Wednesday revealed a plan to make the state a ” sanctuary ” for those seeking reproductive care, possibly including payment for travel, accommodation and procedures for people other states.

The California Future of Abortion Council, made up of more than 40 abortion providers and advocacy groups, has released a list of 45 recommendations the state should consider if the High Court overturns Roe v. Wade – the 48-year-old ruling that bans states from banning abortion.

Recommendations are not just a liberal fantasy. Some of the state’s most important decision-makers helped draft them, including Toni Atkins, the San Diego Democrat who heads the state Senate and has attended several meetings.

READ MORE: Some fear ripple effect on civil rights cases if Roe is quashed

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom himself created the group and, in an interview with The Associated Press last week, said some details of the report would be included in his budget proposal in January.

“We will be a sanctuary,” Newsom said, adding that he was aware that patients would likely travel to California from other states to request an abortion. “We are looking for ways to support this inevitability and ways to extend our protections.”

California already pays for abortions for many low-income residents through the state’s Medicaid program. And California is one of six states that require private insurance companies to cover abortions, though many patients still end up paying deductibles and copayments.

But money won’t be an issue for publicly funded abortion services for patients in other states. California’s coffers have skyrocketed throughout the pandemic, fueling a record budget surplus this year. Next year, the state’s independent office of legislative analysts predicts that California will have a surplus of about $ 31 billion.

The California affiliates of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, got a glimpse of how people might request an abortion outside of their home state this year when a Texas law banning it. abortion after six weeks of pregnancy was allowed to come into force. California clinics have reported a slight increase in the number of patients from Texas.

Now California abortion providers are asking California to make it easier for these people to access the state.

The report recommends funding – including public spending – to support patients seeking abortions for travel costs such as gasoline, accommodation, transportation and child care. He calls on lawmakers to reimburse abortion providers for services to those who cannot afford to pay, including those who travel to California from other states with incomes low enough to qualify for benefits. state-funded Medicaid abortions if they lived there.

It is not known how many people would come to California for an abortion if Roe v. Wade is canceled. But a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, estimated that about 1.3 million more women would travel to California to have an abortion. The institute predicts that most of them would come from Arizona, which has a law in place that would ban abortion once it becomes legal to do so.

“It will definitely destabilize the network of abortion providers,” said Fabiola Carrion, acting director of reproductive and sexual health at the National Health Law Program.

This is why the report calls on lawmakers to provide scholarships for medical students who commit to providing abortion services in rural areas, helping them repay their student loans and paying their monthly premiums. liability insurance.

“We are looking to build capacity and the workforce,” said Jodi Hicks, CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “It will take a partnership and an investment with the state. “

READ MORE: Supreme Court Justices’ Remarks on Abortion and How They Could Build It

Opponents of abortion in California, meanwhile, are also bracing for a potential increase in patients from other states seeking the procedure – they only hope to convince them not to do so.

Jonathan Keller, president and CEO of the California Family Council, said California has about 160 pregnancy resource centers whose goal is to persuade women not to have abortions. He said about half of these centers are medical clinics, while the rest are church counseling centers.

Many centers are located near abortion clinics in an attempt to encourage people to seek advice before opting for termination of pregnancy. Keller said many are already planning to increase their numbers if California gets an increase in patient numbers.

“While we are not faced with immediate legislative opportunities or legislative victories, it is a reminder that the work of changing hearts and minds and also of providing real support and resources to women facing pregnancy. unplanned – this work will always continue, ”Keller said.

He added, “In many ways this work is going to be even more important, both in light of the Supreme Court ruling and in light of whatever Sacramento decides to do in response. “

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