California budget to cover some out-of-state abortion travel


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is preparing to spend up to $20 million to bring women from other states to its abortion clinics, a policy aimed at increasing access to a procedure that has been banned or restricted in many states since that the United States Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

Governor Gavin Newsom previously limited money from the state’s “Abortion Convenience Support Fund” to only in-state travel, saying “we have to be realistic about what we can absorb.” The move surprised abortion advocates, especially since Newsom, a Democrat, had vowed to make California a sanctuary for women from other states seeking abortions.

Abortion advocates have spent weeks lobbying the governor’s office on the issue. On Friday, just days before the end of the legislative session, Newsom and legislative leaders revealed a budget amendment that would allow the state to spend public money on out-of-state travel for abortions. Lawmakers are due to vote next week.

Jodi Hicks, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said the change is significant given that state officials have been working for months to increase the state’s ability to provide abortions in the wake of the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.

“None of this matters if we don’t also make sure patients can get to where they need to go,” she said. “Everyone deserves to get health care, including abortion, and unfortunately for half the country they have to travel outside of the state they live in to get it.”

As some states move to ban or restrict abortion access, some state and local governments have acted to use public money to help women in those states travel to get the procedure. In Republican-led states, city leaders in St. Louis, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, have pledged to use public money to help women get abortions.

Oregon state lawmakers — anticipating an abortion ban in neighboring Idaho — have agreed to spend $15 million to help women get abortions. So far, $1 million has been donated to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, a nonprofit that helps patients pay for travel and the procedure itself. The fund has exhausted its planned operating budget this year amid growing demand for travel assistance, according to Riley Keane, head of practical support for the group.

In California, some of the money could go to Access Reproductive Justice, the only statewide abortion support fund. The group typically helps around 500 people a year with abortions, but director Jessica Pinckney said she’s seen an increase since the US Supreme Court ruling. Recently, for the first time ever, Pinckney said the group helped more women living in other states than in California in a week.

“We are definitely seeing an increase in Texans and Arizonans. We’re also starting to see people coming from Louisiana, Alabama — way further afield than we even expected,” Pinckney said. “I still don’t necessarily think we have the full story of what things are going to look like now in this post-Roe era.”

The California Family Council, a nonprofit that opposes abortion rights, lobbied against the spending this year, but with little success. Jonathan Keller, chairman of the group, said the state should be spending taxpayers’ money on what he sees as more pressing issues, like homelessness and housing.

“The idea that the most urgent use of public funds would be to pay for people from red states to fly here to have abortions at the expense of the California taxpayer is really just a travesty,” he said. declared.

The state budget authorizes $4.8 billion in spending this year over three years for a range of housing and homelessness programs, in addition to the $9 billion approved by lawmakers last year. latest, according to the Office of the Nonpartisan Legislative Analyst.

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Associated Press reporter Claire Rush contributed from Portland, Oregon.

ABC News

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