Activist state

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 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned 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.

While the fund will receive public money, it also accepts private donations – which the Newsom administration says will be important to cover costs.

“As the governor said, California is doing its part, but we can’t do it all — private donations and philanthropy will be critical to these efforts,” Newsom spokesman Alex Stack said. “We all need to step up our efforts to support women who are denied reproductive freedom by their state governments and are forced to come to California for abortion care.”

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.