California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed more than a dozen new abortion laws Tuesday, including some that deliberately clash with restrictions in other states — a sign of the coming conflicts that must be sorted out as lawmakers rush to set their own rules now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.
Most abortions are now illegal in 13 states, and others — including Texas, Oklahoma and Idaho — allow people to sue anyone who performs or aids in an abortion. Meanwhile, Democratic-led states like California, New York and Connecticut have been writing and passing laws to make it easier to get an abortion, with California promoting its abortion services on a state-funded website designed in part to reach women who live in other states.
Conflicts seem inevitable as more people travel for abortions in the coming years, especially with California and Oregon prepared to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to help pay for things like travel, lodging and child care. On Tuesday, Newsom signed a number of laws meant to thwart investigations from other states seeking to prosecute or penalize abortion providers and volunteers in California.
The laws block out-of-state subpoenas, empowering the state insurance commissioner to punish health insurance companies that divulge information about abortions to out-of-state entities. They ban police departments and corporations from cooperating with out-of-state investigations regarding abortions that are legally obtained in California. And they shield prison inmates from other states’ anti-abortion laws.
“An alarming number of states continue to outlaw abortion and criminalize women, and it’s more important than ever to fight like hell for those who need these essential services,” Newsom said in a news release announcing the signings.
If another state tries to apply its laws against someone in California, and California officials say they can’t do that, there is “a lot of gray area as to who is right in that situation,” said Mary Ziegler, the Martin Luther King Jr. professor of law at the University of California, Davis.