Nurses, Other Non-Physicians Can Perform Abortions in California


California's Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a Bill allowing non-physicians to perform abortions in California. AB 154 permits a nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife or physician assistant, who completes specified training and complies with specified standardized procedures or protocols, to perform an abortion by aspiration techniques during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood will most directly benefit from the legislation, as this means non-physician staff in its clinics will be able to obtain licenses that allow them to perform abortions, thus bringing in more revenue.

What is the real motive behind AB 154?

The University of San Francisco Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health study the authors cite as demonstrating that lower-level clinicians can safely perform surgical abortions specifically targets “low-income and minority women” for increased “access” to abortion. Since Medi-Cal pays for abortion, clinics have a financial incentive to expand abortions in poor neighborhoods. It also cites the Affordable Care Act, which will vastly expand the number of people on Medi-Cal. Abortion providers hope to tap this new market by expanding the number of clinicians and clinics that can provide surgical abortions.

And ironically, the statement released by Gov. Brown’s office about the “Women’s Health Legislation” he signed this week says the bill “[supports] the health and well-being of women in California.”

One doctor--who identified himself as pro-choice, told us a different story. He stated, "the bill is a disaster since it sends us back 100 years to the problems of the complications from back-steet abortions." The bill's critics warn that the training provided to non-physician staff is weak, that supervision by physicians in clinics will be minimal, and that there is real risk of injury or death to women who will be treated in such conditions.

The bill permits licensed non-physicians to perform two kinds of abortion in the first trimester--by medication, and by aspiration, which requires the insertion of medical instruments into the uterus. Though many doctors agree that non-physicians could provide medications with few risks, the idea that a non-physician would perform an invasive procedure such as aspiration strikes many as rife with risks.

California is now the fifth state that either allows or doesn’t explicitly ban non-physicians from performing abortions.


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    • Editor-in Chief:
    • Theodore Massey
    • Editor:
    • Robert Sokonow
    • Editorial Staff:
    • Musaba Dekau
      Lin Takahashi
      Thomas Levine
      Cynthia Casteneda Avina
      Ronald Harvinger
      Lisa Andonis

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