Newsom Offers Tax Breaks for Companies in Anti-Abortion States

SACRAMENTO — Underscoring the nation’s widening divide as the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to overturn the constitutional right to abortion, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday proposed a series of tax incentives explicitly aimed at recruiting employers from states that restrict reproductive and L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

The governor’s announcement — which came as Senate Democrats failed to pass legislation that would have codified abortion rights across the country — was an overt challenge to the Republican governors of Florida and Texas, where recent laws have limited classroom speech on gay rights and access to abortions.

It also served as an invitation to Disney, which has said it will relocate some 2,000 California positions to a new Florida campus. L.G.B.T.Q. groups have widely protested the move in the aftermath of a new Florida measure constraining school instruction on sexual orientation, which opponents have nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The request accompanied a proposal to nearly double Mr. Newsom’s reproductive health funding plan to $125 million, including $40 million for grants to providers to offset the cost of abortions for uninsured women from both inside and outside California.

The moves in the deeply Democratic state come as leaders across the country are embracing staunchly liberal or conservative policies, reflecting a growing polarization among the electorate. Governors such as Mr. Newsom and Florida’s Ron DeSantis at times seem to revel in attacking their counterparts at the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Those efforts have increasingly extended to appeals to businesses and residents who feel outnumbered where they are and could be searching for an ideological safe haven, especially if the Supreme Court further empowers states.

More than a dozen legislative measures to protect abortion rights are pending in California, where abortion providers anticipate a rush of demand from patients whose access to the procedure is already being tightened elsewhere.

From Opinion: A Challenge to Roe v. Wade

Commentary by Times Opinion writers and columnists on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

  • Maureen Dowd: Samuel Alito’s draft opinion, which calls for overturning Roe v. Wade, is the culmination of the last 40 years of conservative thinking, showing that the Puritans are winning.
  • Tish Harrison Warren: For many pro-life and whole-life leaders, a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe would represent a starting point, not a finish line.
  • Matthew Walther, Editor of a Catholic Literary Journal: Those who oppose abortion,  should not discount the possibility that its proscription will have some regrettable consequences. Even so, it will be worth it.
  • Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan: If Roe falls, abortion will become a felony in Michigan. I have a moral obligation to stand up for the rights of the women of the state I represent.

“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement. “We’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women — not just those in California — know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights.”

Just as Republican activists have aggressively pursued conservative social policies in state legislatures in advance of the midterm elections, liberal states have intensified their defenses. The concern that Roe v. Wade will be reversed is spurring some states to action amid concerns that the court’s ruling could upend an array of other longstanding privacy rights.

There are marked differences between life in liberal- and conservative-led parts of the country, with one-party control the reality in most states. Only Minnesota and Virginia have state governments in which control of the legislative chambers is divided between the two major parties, compared with 15 three decades ago.

The governor of California, the nation’s most populous state, has been especially vocal, calling on Democrats to more forcefully oppose Republican efforts to tighten laws on social issues and vowing to turn the state into a sanctuary for women, gay and transgender people and others whose rights are repressed in other states.

“Don’t think for a second this is where it’s going to stop,” Mr. Newsom said last week, speaking outside of a Planned Parenthood building in Los Angeles in the wake of a leaked draft of the pending Supreme Court opinion. “Pay attention, America. They’re coming for you next.”

The governor’s rhetoric has fueled some acrimonious political exchanges with leaders of Republican states. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Governor DeSantis of Florida, who is widely considered a Republican presidential contender, accused Mr. Newsom of “spreading disinformation about other states.”

“Florida doesn’t restrict anyone’s rights,” the spokeswoman, Christina Pushaw, wrote in an email. “Perhaps fewer businesses and residents would be fleeing California if Governor Newsom would focus on tackling the problems plaguing his own state.”

The State of Roe v. Wade

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What is Roe v. Wade? Roe v. Wade is a landmark Supreme court decision that legalized abortion across the United States. The 7-2 ruling was announced on Jan. 22, 1973. Justice Harry A. Blackmun, a modest Midwestern Republican and a defender of the right to abortion, wrote the majority opinion.

What was the case about? The ruling struck down laws in many states that had barred abortion, declaring that they could not ban the procedure before the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb. That point, known as fetal viability, was around 28 weeks when Roe was decided. Today, most experts estimate it to be about 23 or 24 weeks.

What else did the case do? Roe v. Wade created a framework to govern abortion regulation based on the trimesters of pregnancy. In the first trimester, it allowed almost no regulations. In the second, it allowed regulations to protect women’s health. In the third, it allowed states to ban abortions so long as exceptions were made to protect the life and health of the mother. In 1992, the court tossed that framework, while affirming Roe’s essential holding.

What would happen if Roe were overturned? Individual states would be able to decide whether and when abortions would be legal. The practice would likely be banned or restricted heavily in about half of them, but many would continue to allow it. Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws, which would immediately make abortion illegal if Roe were overturned.

Mr. Newsom’s proposal to draw business to California would update tax credits, employer grants and other business incentive programs to “provide additional consideration for companies leaving states that have enacted restrictions on reproductive rights and anti-LGBTQ+ laws.”

Last month, after Disney condemned the Florida education law and paused political donations in the state, Florida lawmakers revoked Disney World’s designation as a special tax district, a privilege that effectively allowed the company — the state’s largest employer — to self-govern its 25,000-acre theme park complex.

California’s proposed abortion funding is intended to meet an expected surge in demand from across state lines, particularly from Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Texas. Abortion providers in California estimate that, if reproductive rights revert to the states, California could end up serving as many as 1.4 million women from jurisdictions that will restrict or outlaw the procedure.

The state has already seen an uptick in women seeking abortions since Texas enacted a near-total ban on abortions in September, providers say.

“Out-of-state patients are three times more likely to be seeking abortion-related services than Californians going to Planned Parenthood,” said Brandon Richards, spokesman for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “So we know, or we have a fairly good idea, of why they are coming, and it’s because of the restrictive and dangerous bans that are being put in place in their home states.”

He said he supported additional state funding that would make it easier for patients from outside the state to seek abortions in California.

“We know that the need is not going to go away just because bans are put in place in people’s home states,” Mr. Richards said.

Soumya Karlamangla contributed reporting.

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