SACRAMENTO--A bill to give nurse practitioners and other non-physicians the right to perform first-trimester abortions cleared the Legislature on Friday.
Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the bill's author, said the measure would expand access to abortion providers in many rural counties where there is no place for a woman to receive an abortion.
The bill, AB 154, "reaffirms California's status as a leader in the access for safe and comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all women, regardless of where they reside," Atkins said on the Assembly floor Friday.
Republicans opposed the bill. Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) said allowing nurse practitioners, physicians' assistants and nurse midwives to perform abortions would "lower the standard of care for women."
"Regardless of where you stand in the abortion debate, all of us should be concerned about the practical effects of allowing non-doctors to perform the procedure," Olsen said.
The California Medical Assn., which typically opposes any efforts to allow non-doctors to perform medical procedures, supported the measure, saying in a statement that their concerns about patient safety have been adequately addressed. The bill requires physician supervision of the procedure.
The Assembly gave the final OK to the measure Friday, which had passed the Senate earlier this week. The bill now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Staff writer Anthony York in Sacramento contributed to this report.