California Panel OKs Bill for Non-Doctors Doing Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 25, 2012   |   11:58AM   |   Washington, DC

A California state legislative committee yesterday approved legislation that would allow non-physicians to do abortions. SB 1338 was voted out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on a party line vote with Democrats approving and Republicans voting no.

The measure would allow non-physicians to perform vacuum-aspiration abortions even though the California Nurses Association, which has supported abortion in the past, opposes the legislation. The California Nurses Association has come out in opposition to the bill in its current form, airing concerns about putting the practice and training processes into law before the UC San Francisco study is complete. CNA governmental relations director Bonnie Castillo said while her organization believes the study will find that allowing the professionals covered by the bill to perform the procedure is safe, the change in law is “premature at best.”

“It is not that we are opposed to nurse practitioners performing early first-trimester aspiration abortions. However, we do respect the fact that we need to ensure that the integrity of the study and that process be completed before determining the next appropriate steps,” she said.

Numerous pro-abortion organizations spoke in favor, and several pro-life groups and individuals spoke in opposition to the measure during committee consideration, including California Pro-Life Council director Brian Johnston.

Johnston said he was appalled at the intentional distortion by the Planned Parenthood representative who stated that only doctors were originally allowed to do abortion in California only for safety-sake, but now, “technology has changed”; and therefore abortion is safer for non-physicians to perform this form of invasive medical practice.

“A very dishonest presentation, as aspiration abortion is not part of any “new” technology (like RU 486),” Johnston said.

Setting aside his remarks, Johnston clarified that while there may indeed be new ways of doing abortion, vacuum aspiration was certainly not one of them, and he then described Bernard Nathanson’s concerns about the inherent dangers of the practice. Nathanson had been the founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League and later admitted the group lied about the number of women dying from illegal abortions — having inflated the statistics.

Johnston’s comments about Nathanson alarmed the pro-abortion chair of the committee, Sen. Loni Hancock, as it specifically impinged on public safety and Johnston said she did not want the dangers, or the methods of the actual procedure discussed or described.

Johnston also offered articles from the Los Angeles Times, describing how even trained surgeons have botched the risky procedure. Vice-Chair Senator Joel Anderson attempted to ask a relevant question when Senator Hancock gaveled Johnston down, but the Chair refused to allow any further discussion of that matter.

SB 1338 now moves to the Senate Business and Professions Committee to be heard on Thursday and pro-life groups are urging California residents to call and oppose the bill by going to

Ron Prentice of the California Family Council provided more information to LifeNews about the upcoming vote.

“SB 1338 would allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and midwives to perform aspiration (suction) abortions in California. Never before, until now, has any state purposed to decrease the standard of care for women in order to expand the practice of abortion,” Prentice said. “In a day when a majority of Americans seek to limit the number of abortions, the leadership of the California Legislature seeks to expand access to abortion by decreasing the extent and quality of training required to perform an abortion.”



SB 1338 is authored by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), and both Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Speaker of the Assembly John Perez have co-author status.

Prentice says SB 1338 would change the definition of abortion to void the terms of “surgical” and “nonsurgical” abortion and he said the change is due to aspiration abortion being considered surgery; midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are not licensed or trained to perform surgical procedures.

“In the case of complications, the absence of a physician can be harmful and possibly deadly for the woman,” Prentice said. “Physicians and surgeons are unwilling to perform abortions for good reasons. Many of them find that abortion is antithetical to the practice of medicine.”

“The bill claims to serve women by providing services in close proximity. However, less serious medical procedures require the commitment of time and travel,” he continued. “The language of “choice” disguises the seriousness of the abortion decision. Abortion is a legal “choice,” but a choice that takes the life of an innocent preborn baby.”