Now, Democrats in Maine are pushing through a bill to abolish abortion copays, a policy California introduced last year that Bonta is defending in court against a lawsuit brought by anti-abortion crisis maternity centers.
And in Minnesota, where Democrats reversed control of the legislature in the 2022 midterm elections, lawmakers are pushing for the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act, which replicates several California policies aimed at protecting patients and caregivers from legal jeopardy.
“One of the places we looked to for inspiration was the blueprint that came out of California,” Democratic state Senator Erin Maye Quade said in an interview. “Minnesota has never in its history to date had a majority for reproductive freedom in either chamber. So it was a new muscle that we had to develop.”
The California example, she added, was “super helpful.”
Illinois just passed a law to protect doctors who treat patients out of state, as California did last year. And Missouri and Washington lawmakers have introduced bills similar to California’s that would prevent state officials and law enforcement from obtaining personal medical data from period trackers and other health apps.
Massachusetts’ law to make abortion pills available on public college and university campuses, inspired by California’s and passed in July, will go into effect later this year. And New York may be right behind them.
“Each state is of course different, but we certainly look at something [California] does,” said Amy Paulin, a member of the New York Democratic Assembly who chairs the health committee in Albany. “Like them, we need to provide access to people in our states as best we can and allow people to come here and take advantage of it as well.”
New York lawmakers also voted Tuesday to put a constitutional amendment codifying abortion rights on the ballot in 2024 — something California did last year.
Maryland lawmakers recently invited Bonta to testify as they debated their own measures to protect abortion providers and their patients from prosecution, and California officials met with Vice President Kamala Harris, former state attorney general, to talk her through the new law. to guide policy and provide advice for other states that wish to follow suit.
The Newsom administration has created a website detailing all the actions the state has taken on abortion — administrative, executive, and legislative — with the full language available in case a legislature in another state wants to copy it.
“The kind of fight we have here is happening elsewhere in the country, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” said Julia Spiegel, Newsom’s deputy legal secretary.
Becoming an “Abortion Shelter.”
California’s new abortion laws are designed to serve two purposes: to strengthen protections for people seeking and performing abortions and to expand access to the procedure.
In the first category are laws that prevent California law enforcement and private companies from cooperating with other states attempting to prosecute someone for an abortion performed in California, and laws that also bar subpoenas and requests for information about the procedure out of state. There is also a new law to protect people in the state from criminal and civil liability if they miscarry — a direct response to a Kings County prosecutor who jailed two California women in recent years for alleged drug use during pregnancy that resulted in stillbirth.
Other new state laws aim to prepare California’s clinics to care for the thousands of patients from across the country who are already coming from anti-abortion states — and ensure the influx doesn’t impede access for California residents.
More than $200 million in state funding has been allocated to help people from other states pay for travel, lodging and other needs, reimburse doctors for performing abortions on people who can’t afford them, and help clinics hire more health care providers and to train.
Most of that money has yet to be distributed. But as clinics across the state continue to be flooded with patients six months after the fall RoeDipti Singh, the general counsel for Planned Parenthood of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley, said other new state laws are already taking effect. Among them: A faster and easier process for out-of-state providers to get licensed in California provides new legal protections for medical personnel performing the procedure.
“We were afraid that many providers would say that they would not do abortions [on out-of-state patients] no more because of the personal and professional risks. But we just don’t see that,” she said. “And patients keep coming everywhere because California is doing everything it can to make sure it’s a state of reproductive freedom.”
State officials, including Newsom, aren’t just bracing for traveling patients — they’re actively courting them.
In addition to paying for billboards last year in South Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas promoting the state as an “abortion sanctuary,” the Newsom government launched an online tool to help people across the country a California provider, make an appointment and learn about the state’s new legal protections and financial aid.
In the four months since the site launched, the governor’s office told POLITICO, there have been nearly 60,000 unique visitors, and nearly 60 percent of them come from outside California.