Newsom calls out Republican abortion policies in Alabama ad

In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new political advertisement, two anxious young women in an SUV drive toward the Alabama state line.

The passenger says she thinks they’re going to make it, before a siren blares and the flashing lights of a police car appear in the rearview mirror.

“Miss,” a police officer who approaches the window says to the panicked driver, “I’m gonna need you to step out of the vehicle and take a pregnancy test.”

The fictional video is the latest in a series of visceral advertisements the California governor has aired in other states to call out a conservative campaign to walk back reproductive rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion two years ago.

Newsom’s “Campaign for Democracy” will air the ad on broadcast networks and digital channels in Montgomery, Ala., for two weeks beginning on Monday, according to Lindsey Cobia, a senior advisor to Newsom. The governor is seeking to draw attention to attempts by Republican leaders to make it more difficult for residents of states with abortion bans to travel to other states for reproductive care.

“Not enough attention has been placed on the fact that we’re not just criminalizing women’s access to reproductive care in certain states, now we’re criminalizing their travel,” Newsom said from a Sacramento Planned Parenthood clinic in an interview with MSNBC’s Jen Psaki that aired Sunday, calling escalating Republican backed anti-abortion policies “sickening.”

The governor also is working with state lawmakers on a bill that would temporarily allow Arizona providers to provide abortion care to Arizona patients in California.

Newsom called abortion rights the “moral issue” of our time and called former President Donald Trump “a liar” — warning that if the Republican is elected in November, he will approve a national abortion ban despite recently saying he would leave it up to states as he navigates how the issue could affect him at the polls.

“They’re not just talking about rights regression in states, they’re talking about the nationalization of rights being regressed… everybody watching knows that if Donald Trump becomes president of the United States again, he will sign a national abortion ban, period, full stop,” Newsom said on MSNBC. “He’s the one that’s responsible for the conditions that persist today.”

Newsom’s office is coordinating the legislation with Arizona’s Gov. Katie Hobbs and Atty. Gen. Kris Mayes, Democrats who denounced a recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling that upheld an 1864 abortion ban. The ban, which has yet to take effect, allows only abortions that are medically necessary to save the life of a pregnant patient.

“Arizona Atty. Gen. Kris Mayes identified a need to expedite the ability for Arizona abortion providers to continue to provide care to Arizonans as a way to support patients in their state seeking abortion care in California,” Brandon Richards, a spokesperson for Newsom, said in a statement. “We are responding to this call and will have more details to share in the coming days.”

California voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2022 that protects access to abortion up until the point that a doctor believes the fetus can survive on its own. Doctors are allowed to perform abortions at any stage if a pregnancy poses a risk to the health of the pregnant person.

Since Roe vs. Wade was overturned, Newsom and state lawmakers have increased funding for people from out of state who seek abortions, and have cast the state as a safe haven for abortion services. The proposed legislation to make it easier for Arizona doctors to see patients in California is in response to an anticipated influx of patients from that state in light of the abortion ban.

Democrats are seizing on the issue of abortion, which could offer a political advantage in a crucial election year.

President Biden is campaigning for reelection in part on restoring the protections in Roe vs. Wade, and is blaming Trump for a wave of antiabortion policies.

Trump has taken credit for nominating conservative justices who helped overturn abortion rights in 2022.

Democrats nationally used Alabama as a lightning rod for the dangers of a Trump presidency earlier this spring after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in a lawsuit that embryos may be considered children — a move that temporarily halted in vitro fertilization services in the state. Republican leaders quickly reversed course and passed a bill to protect IVF, a process that usually involves the destruction of some embryos.

Alabama bans abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with no exception for pregnancies arising from rape. State Atty. Gen. Steve Marshall said last year that he could criminally prosecute people in Alabama who help women obtain abortions elsewhere — a claim the U.S. Justice Department has refuted.

“They want to deny access not just to reproductive care, but the future of women and girls — their life, their self determination,” Newsom said. “How can women support Donald Trump for election this November?”