California lawmakers sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown on Friday that, if signed, will expand access to first-trimester abortion care. The bill was approved by the state Senate on Monday.
Assembly Bill 154, written by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), will allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified midwives to perform abortions within the first 12 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy. The bill requires that those performing abortions are in contact with supervising physicians, but physicians will not actually have to be present for the procedure. Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont have similar laws.
The bill aims to expand access to abortion in rural areas where a lack of doctors and clinics makes it difficult to obtain the procedure. More than half of the counties in California do not have an abortion provider. Atkins said in a press release, “Timely access to reproductive health services is critical to women’s health. AB 154 will ensure that no woman has to travel excessively long distances or wait for long periods in order to obtain an early abortion.”
The bill is sponsored by the California Medical Association and the California Women’s Health Alliance, a coalition of groups such as Planned Parenthood, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and Black Women for Wellness.
Media Resources: Assemblymember Toni Atkins Press Releases 8/26/2013, 8/30/2013; California Legislative Information; Los Angeles Times 8/30/2013