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New California bill would let non-physicians perform abortions

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In California -- under a bill approved by the state Senate, one step away from the governor's signature, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants could perform a type of early abortion. Called AB154, the Senate approved the bill on a mostly party-line, 25-11 vote, sending it back to the Assembly for a final vote on amendments.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The measure's author, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would allow medical professionals perform "aspiration abortions" during the first trimester. The method involves inserting a tube and using suction to terminate a pregnancy.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara says the bill would enlarge the list of professionals who can perform those types of abortions. This would assist areas where there are few doctors, she said, adding that about half of California counties lack abortion providers.

"All women deserve access to care in their local communities," she said.

According to some officials, the procedure is safest when performed early. Women in rural areas often have difficulty arranging for and traveling to a provider, she said.

Several Republicans objected to the expansion, saying it would increase medical risks for patients.

"Abortion is a serious medical procedure with vast complications, and I would argue that only the best-trained should conduct such an operation," Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber said. "It has direct and profound impact on lives: the mother and the baby - and there is a baby."

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, says that legalized abortion was supposed to end the days when women's lives were put at risk. Atkins' bill, he says, would allow the procedures by providers who have less training and in clinics without sufficient backup if there are complications.

Jackson reiterated that the medical professionals covered by the bill have been performing the procedure for six years without significant problems and that the bill requires them to get specialized training and follow standard procedures.

Under a state pilot program created in 2007, 8,000 aspiration abortions have been provided by non-doctors. Both doctors and non-doctors performing the procedures had error rates below two percent, Jackson said.

Oregon, Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire already allow nurse practitioners to perform these abortions. Under California law, nurse practitioners can administer medicine to induce an abortion.

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