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Governor signs bill allowing women to obtain birth control without seeing a doctor (UPDATED)

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Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in Los Angeles Saturday that will allow women to obtain birth control without having to see a doctor.

"Instead of shrinking back and trying to take away women's healthcare services and birth control, we're empowering them," Brown said to a crowd at Planned Parenthood's L.A. headquarters.

AB 2348, authored by Democratic state Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, allows registered nurses to dispense and administer birth control according to a standard procedure outlined by a doctor. That's in contrast to requiring the doctor to sign off on each prescription.

The bill passed without any Republican support. Republican lawmakers argued only doctors have the medical expertise to provide hormonal contraceptives and they questioned the standard of care nurses could provide.

The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, would also require women to see a doctor for an exam after at least three years, Mitchell said.

"In many countries contraceptives are available over the counter, but not in the U.S.," Mitchell said.

Supporters lauded the bill as "pioneering" during a time when women's rights are under attack. Brown said California is leading the way.

"Today we're realizing the dream that women have the right to control their own destiny, not some guys in the Legislature who think they know better," Brown said.

Mitchell said the bill allows women in rural areas with a shortage of doctors, nurse practitioners or physicians assistants — all of whom can provide contraceptives — the ability to obtain birth control from more prevalent registered nurses.

"It doesn’t do any good to have a card that says health insurance if there’s no one to give healthcare," said Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President and CEO Kathy Kneer. "By using RNs to the full ability of their training...we’re freeing up space for women who have higher risk conditions to see a nurse practitioner or physician."

Later on Saturday, the governor signed Senate Bill 623, which extends for two years a study program that allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform first-trimester abortions.

This story has been updated.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Assemblywoman Norma Torres had authored a bill allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform first-trimester abortions. Senate Bill 623 was actually introduced by Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego). 

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