State Lawmakers, Activists Prepare to Make California a ‘Sanctuary State’ for Abortion

State Lawmakers, Activists Prepare to Make California a ‘Sanctuary State’ for Abortion

A demonstrator shouts during a counter demonstration at the Ninth Annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, Calif., in 2013. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Anticipating a reversal in the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence, pro-abortion clinics, activists and lawmakers in California are spearheading an initiative to make the state a “sanctuary” for the procedure by subsidizing travel and lodging for out-of-state women seeking the procedure.

The California Future of Abortion Council, a network of over 40 abortion providers and activist groups, published a suggested plan for the state in the event of a reversal of Roe v. Wade, in which case the issue would return to the states to craft their own policy.

Prominent Democratic lawmakers in the California state government, such as Toni Atkins, helped draft the proposal, the Associated Press reported. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom told the AP he created the coalition, which will share more information about the recommendations in the January budget proposal.

“We’ll be a sanctuary,” Newsom told the outlet, acknowledging that they’re expecting a lot of women to cross state borders into California to secure an abortion. “We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections.”

The state’s social safety net for abortion is wide-reaching, as it already covers the procedure for low-income women through the state’s Medicaid program and requires private insurance companies to pay for it.

The report says California should pay the travel costs, such as for gas and accommodations, of out-of-state women seeking abortions, potentially with public funds. It pushes for the legislature to reimburse abortion providers that have to pay out of pocket for patients who can’t afford to pay, including poorer people from other states who would qualify for Medicare if they were residents there.

The report also encourages legislators to incentivize medical students to commit to performing abortions in more remote parts in California by awarding them scholarships and helping them pay off their student loans and monthly liability insurance premiums.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which directly challenges the viability precedent set by Roe v. Wade, and may rule on the case as early as June.

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