Sacramento, California — A bill that would allow nurses, midwives and physician assistants to perform abortions is advancing in California’s state legislature.
AB 154 was recently approved by the Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection by a 9-4 vote. The legislation, introduced by Assembly member Toni Atkins, seeks to further and increase abortion in the state by making the procedure more readily available to mothers. It applies solely to abortions within the first few months of pregnancy, which are usually performed by suction aspiration — a technique that involves forcefully tearing the baby from the womb with a powerful suction device.
“This bill would state that it is the intent of the legislature to enact legislation that would expand access to reproductive health care in California by allowing qualified health care professionals to perform early abortions,” it reads.
The legislation notes that it is currently a criminal offense for anyone other than a licensed physician to end the lives of unborn children.
“Existing law makes it a public offense, punishable by a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment, or both, for a person to perform or assist in performing a surgical abortion if the person does not have a valid license to practice as a physician and surgeon, or to assist in performing a surgical abortion without a valid license or certificate obtained in accordance with some other law that authorizes him or her to perform the functions necessary to assist in performing a surgical abortion,” it states, outlining that non-surgical abortions are also limited to certain licensed individuals.
However, if the bill passes in the state legislature, criminal penalties would no longer be imposed.
Planned Parenthood Action of California recently praised the proposal, remarking that in addition to increasing access to abortion, it “minimizes targeted statutory regulation of abortion” and “reaffirms California’s leadership on women’s health issues as anti-choice legislation sweeps the nation.”
“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,” the organization explained on the legislative section of its website. “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.”
However, pro-life groups in the state are concerned about the legislation and oppose it sharply. The Capitol Resource Institute is among those urging lawmakers to vote no.
“AB 154 is not safe for women’s health,” the organization commented. “This law would put women’s health at risk by allowing non-physicians to perform abortions.”
Assemblyman Brian Jones likewise lamented the approval of the bill in Committee. He was one of four Republicans to reject the measure.
“They’re purposely moving California left,” he stated in a video commentary entitled Are You Kidding Me? “States are passing laws that are restricting the term of the pregnancy when you can have an abortion. They specifically said that in California they are trying to move in the other direction.”
As previously reported, North Dakota and Arkansas both recently barred abortions where a heartbeat is detected, asserting that it was the duty of the state to protect life.
California’s abortion bill will now move the Assembly Health Committee for a vote before it is permitted to move on to the full legislature.