California launched a new website this week to connect people with information and access to abortion. Two days later, Governor Gavin Newsom put up billboards in anti-abortion red states to advertise the new site.
The website, abortion.ca.gov, includes pages detailing information about the procedure, California laws and legal protections, and a map showing clinics that are licensed to perform the procedure in the state. It also makes clear that people who are not residents of California can also receive reproductive care in the state.
Two days after announcing the state had launched the website, Newsom’s gubernatorial re-election campaign put up billboards in seven Republican-led states to advertise the new site and criticize the states’ governors for restricting abortion.
The billboards contain messages including “Texas doesn’t own your body. You do,” and “Need an abortion? California is ready to help,” with the website address on the signs.
“Here is my message to any woman seeking abortion care in these anti-freedom states: Come to California. We will defend your constitutional right to make decisions about your own health,” the governor said.
According to Newsom’s campaign, 18 billboards went up in Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.
It’s the latest example of the governor using his campaign funds to run political ads in other states. In July, he ran a TV spot in Florida criticizing state leaders for restricting abortion and discussions or literature about LGBTQ people in schools.
The out-of-state ad spending implies the governor is not concerned with his chances at winning re-election this year against Republican opponent Brian Dahle, a state senator from rural Northern California. Newsom boasts a campaign war chest of $24 million while Dahle had raised $1.5 million, according to financial reporting, through June of this year.
Despite the political attacks against Republican states, Newsom has repeatedly maintained that he has “sub-zero interest” in running for president in 2024.
Abortion advocates welcomed the new website as a resource for people who are seeking care and accurate information.
“There’s so much misinformation and disinformation right now. People are just confused about what is legal” and it’s exacerbated by rapidly changing laws, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President Jodi Hicks CapRadio’s Insight with Vicki Gonzalez Thursday. “This is a website that lets you know what your legal rights are, lets you know where you can find care [and] where resources are available.”
The new website was funded through a $1 million budget allocation approved in June. Another $20 million was set aside for abortion clinics to distribute grants to patients who need help paying for childcare, travel, lodging or other expenses that would limit access to an abortion.
A bill sitting on Newsom’s desk would require the state to provide such a website. If the bill is signed, the site would be required to include additional links to resources such as abortion funds, which typically help pay for costs including travel and lodging for people seeking an abortion.
The website is currently only available in English and Spanish, but the Newsom administration says it will soon be translated to Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean.
Abortion providers say there have been noticeable changes in demand since the June decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned the nationwide right to an abortion.
“We’re still trying to determine patient patterns and what that flow is going to look like,” Hicks said. We’re definitely seeing an uptick, for instance, in any city with an airport. We know people like to drive, but that’s dependent on how close that [clinic] is.”
She said patients could also make decisions based on having a friend or relative in a particular city they could stay with to receive an abortion.
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