California’s liberal Gov. Jerry Brown now has a bill on his desk allowing nurses, certified midwives, and other specially trained clinicians to perform early-term vacuum aspiration and medicine-induced abortions.
AB 154, whose main sponsor is Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and is supported by numerous pro-choice groups, passed both legislative chambers this past week and is now on Brown’s desk, reports Breitbart News.
If Brown signs the bill, it will allow non-physician staff at Planned Parenthood’s clinics, among others, to obtain licenses to perform the abortion procedures.
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Planned Parenthood says the legislation is necessary because a shortage of doctors in some parts of the state means that women often have to wait until later in their pregnancies to terminate them, which is a riskier procedure.
“Early abortion access is a critical public health issue,” Planned Parenthood says on its legislative page.
“An estimated one in three women will decide to terminate a pregnancy by age 45, yet many women often do not have sufficient access to early abortions because of the limited number of physicians providing the services in their communities. Almost half of the counties in California have no accessible abortion provider, requiring women to travel significant distances to terminate a pregnancy or wait for an appointment for services.”
The bill is co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, Black Women for Wellness, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, and NARAL Pro-Choice California.
Pro-life groups are lobbying Brown to veto the bill, saying it will multiply the number of abortions performed in California.
“This bill is not about helping women, it is specifically designed to trivialize what an abortion is, and its risks,” Brian Johnston
Executive Director, California Pro-Life Council, told LifeNews.com.
“The founder of National Abortion Rights Action League, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who subsequently became pro-life, says that vacuum aspiration abortion is inherently dangerous to the mother, as the physician must blindly probe for the baby.”
And in California, Johnston said, “the California Business and Professions Code prohibits abortions being done on animals unless the abortionist is a trained and certified veterinary surgeon. If 154 is made law, a mother dog will have more dignity in the eyes of California law than a vulnerable young mother talked into an abortion by a Planned Parenthood staffer.”
The legislation was introduced by Assemblywomen Toni Adkins, the former administrator of a health clinic in San Diego.
Adkins told KQED Public Radio that In nearly half of California’s 58 counties, the only abortion providers are in hospitals, which provide urgent care in case of emergencies. However, women from rural areas who want a first trimester abortion often must travel long distances to obtain one at an unfamiliar clinic, Adkins said, and that geographic disparity is unjustified.
“Women need access to this procedure,” said Atkins. “And they should be able to get it in their own home communities, from providers they already know and trust.”
Atkins said abortions are medically a straightforward, simple procedure that can be performed safely in an outpatient setting by trained nurse practitioners, midwives or physician assistants.
Bill May, of Catholics for the Common Good, said that lawmakers passed the bill even though polls show Californians oppose allowing nurses to perform abortions.
“In a recent poll of California voters, across all demographics—men, women, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Democrats, Republican, Independents—by a 65-29 margin, the idea of allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to conduct abortions is rejected,” said May, referring to a April survey by Smith-Johnson Research of Sacramento.
A doctor who identified himself as being pro-choice told Breitbart News called the bill a “disaster” because it “sends us back 100 years to the problems of the complications from back-street abortions.”
Critics also say the training for non-physician staff is weak and that doctors’ supervision will be minimal, creating a risk of injuring or killing women.
But the California Medical Association endorses the bill because of “provisions for training in the bill and the amendments that clarify physician supervision.”
The training will be provided by the Board of Registered Nursing and not by physicians, however, and the legislation does not require a doctor to be present at the abortions or even on site.
In addition to the aspiration method, the non-physician abortions can be done by medication. Many doctors agree that the non-physicians can provide medications without much risk, but the aspiration method causes more risks to the patient.
Opponents also complain that the bill is an effort by Planned Parenthood and other groups to profit from Obamacare, which expands the number of patients eligible for state-funded health insurance, Medi-Cal, which funds abortions.
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By Sandy Fitzgerald