On Monday, the California state senate approved Assembly Bill 154 in an effort to broaden the number of abortion providers throughout the state. AB 154, if signed into law, will allow for non-physicians, including nurse practitioners, nurse-midwifes, and physician assistants to perform abortions within the first trimester of pregnancy, provided they have previously received specialized training. The bill passed 25–11 without a single Republican vote.
Commenting on her support for the bill, state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, (D., Santa Barbara) stated, “The growing shortage of abortion providers creates a significant barrier for women.” Thus, according to Planned Parenthood, the bill was drafted in order to “address the current shortage of health care professionals able to provide early abortion care in California.”
However, senate Republicans believe women already have adequate access to abortion providers, and, furthermore, that this bill puts women at risk. “The individuals here do not have the training, do not have the experience . . . that doctors do,” said Senator Jim Nielson, (R., Gerber). As the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, several Republicans worried that the bill “puts women’s lives at risk” or noted that “abortion is a serious medical procedure with vast complications.” Democrats countered by citing the California Medical Association’s endorsement of the bill.
AB 154 must first head back to the state assembly for approval of the senate amendments before being presented to Governor Jerry Brown.