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Bill would allow non-doctors to perform abortions in California

February 28, 2012 |  2:03 pm

Photo: Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego). Credit: Associated PressA state senator is proposing to significantly expand access to abortion in California by allowing licensed nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives to perform nonsurgical versions of the procedure in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) late last week introduced SB1501, which would allow medical professionals who are not doctors to perform aspiration abortions, which is the procedure most often used to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester.

Kehoe said she introduced the bill because half of California's counties do not have an abortion provider. The proposal is cosponsored by the leaders of each house of the Legislature, a sign it has significant support in the Democrat-dominated body.

"We believe it will give many California women access to earlier, safer procedures in the first trimester of their pregnancy," Kehoe said at a news conference in Sacramento on Tuesday.

Abortion rights advocates who joined Kehoe said only four states permit nonphysicians to perform aspiration, or vacuum, abortions.

Ana Rodriguez, executive director of ACCESS Women's Health Justice, said that women often call her group complaining of the distances they must travel to get an abortion. One Central Valley mother of four had to take a 3 a.m. bus to San Francisco to terminate her pregnancy, Rodriguez said. Another, living in the Sierra took an Amtrak train and saved on hotel costs by sleeping in the restroom of the hospital where she got her abortion, Rodriguez said.

Howevemer Camille Giglio, a lobbyist for California Right-to-Life, said the proposal flies in the face of pro-choice advocates' claims that abortion is a careful, medical procedure.

"When do they let the janitor do it?" Giglio said in an interview. "They're totally casting aside the safety of the woman."

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-- Nicholas Riccardi in Sacramento

Photo: Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) has introduced a bill that would allow licensed nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives to perform aspiration abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy. Credit: Associated Press

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