March 16, 2022

CA Bill Would Let Nurse Practitioners Perform Abortions Without Supervision

CA Bill Would Let Nurse Practitioners Perform Abortions Without Supervision

On March 4th, SB-1375 was introduced in the California Legislature that would allow certain nurse practitioners to perform abortions without requiring a doctor to be present. The bill has been created in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court allowing individual states to restrict or outright ban abortions. California wants to be prepared for this potential change and the influx of patients that could come to the state for treatment.

According to State Senate Leader and Democrat from San Diego, Toni Atkins, “As states like Texas and others start to restrict further abortion, it just makes sense that women are going to find other places to go. California will be one of those states." 

Former President Donald Trump created a conservative majority on the Supreme Court with three appointments during his term. In response, conservative states have issued new abortion restrictions in the hopes that the court will rule in their favor. 

In Texas, the state has banned almost all abortions. While these restrictions can only be enforced in civil court, the law remains in effect until the Supreme Court makes its final ruling this summer. Mississippi has also banned almost all abortions for anyone more than 15 weeks pregnant. 

During arguments, there have been signs that the Supreme Court is willing to uphold these laws and even take things a step further by overturning Roe v. Wade, the historic case that prohibits states from making abortions illegal. If the court rules in favor of the restrictions, other states are likely to enact their own laws to limit women’s access to abortions. 

California is preparing for this potential shift by doing its own part to make sure women who live in restrictive states are able to receive treatment. They are even exploring the possibility of creating a fund that would use taxpayer money and private donations to pay for travel expenses for women who want to come to California for an abortion.

In 2013, a law was passed that allows physician assistants, certified midwives, and nurse practitioners to perform abortions in the first trimester, but there are some additional requirements. Under the law, a doctor must supervise the procedure and anyone administering an abortion is required to complete a special training course. 

This new law would eliminate the need for a doctor’s supervision and allow nurse practitioners with the proper training to perform abortions. Becoming a nurse practitioner means earning an advanced degree and sharing many of the same responsibilities as doctors. Patti Gurney, president of the California Association for Nurse Practitioners, says “When we're within our areas of training, we are absolutely qualified to provide the care that we do.”   

Of course, California’s efforts are meeting with some criticism. Jonathan Keller, president and CEO of the California Family Council, thinks that the state’s recent bills go too far. “We are essentially treating abortion like no other health care service," he said. "We're not flying people from poor states to California to get heart transplants."   

States on both sides of the issue are preparing for the Supreme Court decision, which is expected to be announced in June. If the court does uphold restrictions, California will become a safe haven for those seeking access to abortions. 

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