A state lawmaker has revived a proposal to allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives to perform routine abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy as a way of expanding access to the procedure across California.
Only doctors may perform aspiration abortions, the most common method of terminating early pregnancies, under existing state law. But residents in more than half of California's counties do not have access to an abortion provider, said Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), author of the proposal.
"As a former healthcare administrator in women's clinics, I know from first-hand experience that safe and ready access to abortion procedures makes all the difference in the world in women's lives," she said in a statement. "Long wait times or having to travel long distances put basic services out of reach for many women."
The lawmaker said women increase both their costs and chances of medical complications the longer they wait.
Atkins introduced the measure, AB 154, on Tuesday, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe vs. Wade decision. State Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) withdrew a similar proposal last year for lack of support.
Opponents of Kehoe's bill had argued that the idea was reckless and would put women at risk.
Camille Giglio, a lobbyist for the anti-abortion group California Right to Life, expressed disgust last year that the state would cast itself as a leader on abortion access. "This is the first step down the road to making it appear like it's a simple, drive-by, 15-minute diversion," she said.
--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento