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California welcomes Arizona abortion providers, but doctors will likely stay put

California’s governor on Thursday  signed an emergency law to allow Arizona doctors to come to the state to perform abortions for their patients. But Arizona abortion providers are unlikely to participate.

Three Arizona abortion providers contacted by KJZZ said the new California law would be impractical both for patients and doctors.

“Arizona abortion providers are too busy providing care here,” Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick of Camelback Family Planning wrote in an email. “The bill only allows [Arizona] physicians to see Arizona residents who travel to California and only for abortion related care. What clinic would hire this doctor?”

Erika Mach, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said in a statement, “It is an unreasonable expectation for our politicians and judges to ask Arizonans to travel to California to provide or receive basic health care.”

California Democrats passed the new legislation in response to the Arizona Supreme Court’s April decision to uphold an 1864 law that criminalizes performing an abortion, unless it’s to save a mother’s life.

But Arizona doctors may never be held to that ban. Arizona lawmakers  repealed the law earlier this month. The repeal won’t take effect until 90 days after the end of the legislative session, which could fall in September. But the state Supreme Court has delayed its mandate in the abortion case, which  pushes back enforcement of the near-total ban at least until late September, when the repeal will likely have gone into effect.

So Arizona providers are still allowed to perform abortions up to 15 weeks of gestation. Before the passage of the 15-week law in 2022,  more than 90% of abortions in the state happened within the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion rights  advocates are hoping a ballot measure in November might restore abortion access in Arizona to the point of fetal viability — around 24 weeks of gestation — as had been allowed until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

More stories from KJZZ

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.