Top officials in California are backing a plan to make the state a safe haven for women seeking abortions if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Planned Parenthood and some 40 other groups released dozens of recommendations for policymakers to consider adopting, including increasing funding for pro-abortion organizations, which help women getting the procedure with gas money, child care, and other potential obstacles; repaying loans for healthcare workers who provide abortion; and opening up virtual counseling for women in other states who want to take abortion pills.
California Sen. Toni Atkins, the state Senate’s president pro tempore, penned a letter in support of the recommendations, and Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who started the coalition, said some of the recommendations will be included in his budget proposal in January 2022.
“We’ll be a sanctuary,” Newsom said in an interview, adding he’s aware patients will likely travel to California from other states to seek abortions.
“We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections,” he added.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 1 heard arguments from Mississippi officials in a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that said access to abortion was a constitutional right.
The ruling and its companion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “have no basis in the Constitution,” Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart told the court.
If the court strikes down the earlier rulings, each state would be free to restrict or expand access to abortion.
Twenty-six states are likely or certain to ban abortion, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, said this week that his state would enforce a 15-week abortion ban if the Supreme Court rules in its favor.
“If you believe as I believe very strongly that that innocent, unborn child in the mother’s womb is in fact a child, the most important word when we talk about unborn children is not unborn, but it’s children,” Reeves said on CNN, adding, “I’ll do everything I can to protect the lives of those children.”
California is already one of the most pro-abortion states; about 15 in 100 abortions done in the United States in 2017 were completed in the state. California 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, although many patients still end up paying deductibles and co-payments.
The pro-abortion groups are asking lawmakers in the state to reimburse abortion providers for services to those who can’t afford to pay—including those who travel to California from other states whose income is low enough that they would qualify for state-funded abortions under Medicaid if they lived there.
Planned Parenthood, which accounts for about half of California’s abortion clinics, said it served 7,000 people from other states last year.
Pro-life groups panned the recommendations, describing them as radical.
The pro-abortion coalition “wants to coopt all Californians into furthering its radical abortion infrastructure, including funding abortion for uninsured women, state funding for abortion training, and invasive interrogation into the sexual activity of minors as young as 10 years old,” Mary Riley, Life Legal Defense Foundation’s vice president and founder, told The Epoch Times in an email.
The group is urging legislators to reject any legislation that includes recommendations from Planned Parenthood and its allies.
Matthew Vadum, Jack Phillips, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.