AB 154, which was sponsored by Democratic Assembly Member Toni Atkins of San Diego, aims to make abortion more accessible in the state, especially in rural areas where abortionists are more difficult to find.
“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.
Atkins said that the bill was necessary because she believes that there is a “shortage” of abortion services in the state. There are currently 109 abortion facilities in California–the most in the nation.
“Access to healthcare should not depend on where you live. For rural women or those in heavily populated urban areas, a shortage of abortion providers can mean burdensome travel or long waits to be treated,” she commented in a statement. “AB 154 helps address this shortage and will make early abortions available to women by trained professionals in a timely fashion and in their own communities.”
Nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants would be permitted to perform aspiration abortions under the new law, which are typically performed during the first trimester. The procedure entails using a powerful vacuum-like device to rip the developing child from the womb, often times in pieces.
“Abortion is a serious medical procedure with vast complications, and I would argue only the best trained should conduct such an operation,” stated Senator Jim Nielsen, one of a number of Republicans who opposed the legislation. “It has direct and profound impact on lives: the mother and the baby — and there is a baby.”
Nonetheless, the bill passed the Assembly in May 50-25, and the Senate passed it last week with a 25-11 vote. It has now been sent to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown to be signed into law.
Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont have similar legislation on the books, but a number of other states have conversely passed dozens of abortion restrictions this year, including in Alabama, Texas, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
“They’re purposely moving California left,” Assemblyman Brian Jones lamented 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.”
Senator Neilsen agreed.
“It’s a dangerous direction we’re going,” he said.