A California committee today approved legislation that would allow nurses and midwives to perform abortions. The bill will next be heard in the Health committee following today’s 9-4 vote.
The Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection voted for the bill, which comes after the state took a first step next year and putting women’s health at risk by allowing non-doctors to perform surgical abortions — even though women have been killed and injured in abortions even when performed by licensed physicians.
“AB 154 is not safe for women’s health. This law would put women’s health at risk by allowing non-physicians to perform abortions,” it said.
During the committee hearing, proponents of the bill claimed there is a necessity to expand access to abortions and that allowing non-physicians to perform abortions, women will not have to travel from rural communities to have abortions.
“The indisputable fact is that expanding the categories of licensed abortionists will compromise the quality of women’s health in California.” Dr. Val Smith, Ph.D, a statistician in behavioral science testified, “As a matter of public policy, I request that committee members weigh the inconvenience of women crossing county lines to obtain abortions against the certainty of compromised women’s health.”
Karen England of CRI said Assemblymember Hagman argued that it is not uncommon for a person seeking an elective medical treatment to travel to receive medical care. Hagman further questioned the complication rate, according to proponents’ own study, of non-physicians being twice that of physicians performing abortions. The discussion continually reverted away from safe medical care for women to “access” and “women’s rights” to abortions.
Assemblyman Brian Jones expressed concern about the minors that will receive abortions by non-physicians. When Jones asked how minors are able to pay for the abortions they receive, a Planned Parenthood representative conceded that minors were able to apply for Medi-cal benefits in order to receive abortions if they do not want to use their parent’s insurance.
Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that makes it so nurses in California can do abortions, even though they do not have a valid medical license certifying them as a physician. Brown, a Democrat, visited a Los Angeles Planned Parenthood abortion clinic to sign another bill related to birth control and he also signed the abortion measure into law.
Senate Bill 623, by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, was supported by Planned Parenthood and opposed by pro-life groups. Introduced by Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), it extended a program run by the University of California, San Francisco, in which nurse practitioners, midwives and physicians assistants are trained to perform abortions.
The last days of the California legislative session saw abortion backers fight to expand abortion, while ignoring the severe economic crisis California continues to face. Lawmakers took an unrelated book and inserted language in it from a failed measure to allow nurses to do abortions.
Kehoe claimed that the bill was necessary to fill gaps in the availability of abortion caused by the shortage of doctors in parts of the state. The bill went through three attempts before passage. Ms. Kehoe “gutted and amended” the bill after its introduction, which raised some protest from other members of the Senate. This spring, a Senate committee rejected an attempt to pass a broader bill allowing non-physicians to perform abortions. In the end, a narrower version of the bill was passed. Rather than opening abortion to non-physicians generally, the bill focuses on extending a U.C. San Francisco program training physicians assistants and others to perform first trimester abortions.
The new measure, AB 154, seeks to expand that effort.
ACTION: Go to http://assembly.ca.gov/ to find your members to call and email to urge a NO vote on the bill.