Patt Morrison for February 29, 2012

California bill would let non-doctors perform most-common abortion technique to expand access

Charlie Neibergall

Nurse practitioner Sharon Spiller, left, and physicians assistant Tiernie Garbers, right, work in a lab at the Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa, Tuesday, March 24, 2009, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Half of all counties in California do not have a physician routinely available to administer abortions. In order to increase women’s access to the procedure statewide, Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) has authored a bill, SB 1501, to also allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives to perform abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy.

“We believe it will give many California women access to earlier, safer procedures in the first trimester of their pregnancy,” Kehoe said at a news conference in Sacramento on Tuesday.

Existing state law allows only doctors to perform abortions, including aspiration abortions, which entail the most commonly used method for terminating early pregnancies.

Kehoe’s bill is quickly gaining support among California’s mostly Democratic Legislature, but lawmakers against abortion, such as Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee), have voiced their strong opposition to, as Jones stated, “looking for more ways to abort babies.”

The proposal comes at a time when other state legislatures are looking to restrict abortions, including the Virginia Senate, which approved a bill on Tuesday that requires women to undergo external ultrasounds before having abortions.

WEIGH IN:

Should non-doctor medical professionals be allowed to perform abortions?

Guests:

Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), author of the SB 1501, which is co-sponsored by the heads of both legislative houses

Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee), opposes the proposed legislation

Carole Joffe, professor, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, UC – San Francisco; author, “Dispatches from the Abortion Wars”

Dahlia Lithwick, senior legal editor, Slate.com


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