Bill to allow some non-physician abortions is pulled

Posted on May 4, 2012

LA Times, May 4, 2012 by Nicholas Riccardi

A controversial proposal to allow some nurses, midwives and physician’s assistants to perform certain first-trimester abortions was pulled by its author Friday as she acknowledged it lacked the votes to pass a key legislative committee.

The proposal, SB1338, would have positioned California in opposition to many other states that are restricting access to abortions. In its initial version, it would have allowed some medical workers to perform aspiration abortions, a less-invasive first trimester procedure that can currently be performed only by physicians in California.

The bill had the backing of the Democratic leaders of both houses of the Legislature and Planned Parenthood, which ran radio ads targeting legislators on the balking committee. But it was opposed by an influential nurses union and abortion foes.

Still, to clear its first committee, State Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) narrowed the measure to apply only to medical workers who had participated in a pilot program at UC San Francisco to train non-physicians in the procedure. On Friday afternoon, though, Kehoe acknowledged that she still did not have the votes to get the proposal through the next committee, the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.

“The issue of access to early abortion care for women across California remains an important issue and we will continue to review our options for ensuring that all women have access to care by providers they know and trust in the communities where they live,” Kehoe said in a statement, announcing that she was pulling the bill.

The proposal is not dead. Many bills get bottled up in committee only to make it to the floor later in the session because of compromises or last-minute legislative maneuvers.

Posted in: California