It would be easier for California women to get abortions under a bill the state Senate approved today.
Assembly Bill 154 expands the types of medical providers that can offer abortions by allowing nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform the procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy.
The bill by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, cleared the Senate on a vote of 25-11. Supporters, all Democrats, argued that the policy is necessary because remote parts of California do not have many doctors, requiring women who seek an abortion to travel for hours.
"The growing shortage of abortion providers creates a significant barrier for women," said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.
Opponents, mostly Republicans, said the proposal puts women at risk.
"It is a leveling down of health care for women," said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber. "The individuals here do not have the training, do not have the experience.... that doctors do."
AB 154 now heads back to the Assembly for a vote on Senate amendments before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D- Los Angeles, in June 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua