Newsom targets Arizona — and Alabama — over abortion restrictions

SACRAMENTO, California — Gavin Newsom is doubling down on his campaign to blister red states over abortion access, unveiling a new TV ad set to air in Alabama Monday where lawmakers are trying to criminalize people who help minors travel out-of-state for reproductive care.

The Democratic California governor on Sunday also announced planned legislation of his own to make it easier for neighboring Arizonans to get abortions in the Golden State following the recent state Supreme Court decision there.

Newsom’s latest ad, which debuted Sunday on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki,” is aimed at a proposed bill in Alabama that would make it a crime for people who help minors get an abortion without informing a parent or guardian. It’s part of a multistate campaign Newsom is paying for through his Campaign for Democracy PAC, focused on so-called abortion travel bans and rolled out in late February, nearly two years after he first chided his own party for being on defense on the issue.

Newsom’s ad follows his release of a similar spot aimed at Tennessee, where state lawmakers are moving to outlaw transporting a minor for an abortion. That ad showed a distressed young woman handcuffed to a hospital gurney and pleading for help. The Alabama ad, called “Fugitive,” is another dramatic rendering of what could happen if adults are punished for helping minors seek an abortion across state lines.

It features two women driving a mile out from the state border when they are pulled over by law enforcement. The narrator says “Trump Republicans” want to criminalize young Alabama women who travel for reproductive care. The officer then asks the driver to step out of the vehicle and take a pregnancy test.

Several red-state officials, including in Oklahoma and Idaho, have moved to impose legal penalties and fines for transporting people seeking abortions over state lines. Newsom, who also has run abortion-related TV spots and billboards and is pushing to make California a legal “sanctuary” for abortions, has said the conditions in red states are “much more pernicious than they even appear.”

As the White House and Democrats keep the pressure on the GOP in swing- and purple states, his ads are part of a state-by-state campaign that includes ways for minority Democrats there to take action against the legislation in the red swathes of the country.

Newsom was early in imploring Democrats to push back on legal incursions into abortion rights, but it’s since become a campaign pillar for his party. Vice President Kamala Harris has made it a signature issue in the Biden-Harris reelection effort, and President Joe Biden will deliver an abortion-focused speech Tuesday in Tampa, Florida, seeking to capitalize on the state’s looming six-week ban that will soon go into effect.

Florida voters will also have a chance to protect abortion access in November with a ballot measure.

Newsom’s ad comes weeks after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos created through IVF are considered children under state law. And it is set to air Monday, just days after the Arizona Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold an 1864 ban on abortion in that state. In response to the ruling in Arizona, Newsom’s office on Sunday unveiled the proposal to offer Arizona abortion providers an expedited way to get licensed in California.

California already has seen an uptick in abortion care from Arizona-based patients and is bracing for more people to travel there.

Running ads outside California’s borders has become a familiar move by the California governor, a regular consumer of Fox News’ content who has fought with Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, both Republicans, to bolster his national profile.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022, Newsom rented billboards in several Republican-led states. Later, he skipped TV ads for his own cakewalk reelection and instead spent millions on spots for 2022’s Proposition 1, a measure that enshrined the right to abortion and contraceptives in California’s constitution.

Newsom last year led a network of Democratic governors in 20 states to strengthen abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s court’s Dobbs decision. Still, California has struggled to increase access to abortion within its own borders, and opening up treatment opportunities for Arizona doctors could relieve some of the pressure.

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