CA Nurse Practitioners and CNMs Allowed To Perform Abortions in 2023

4 Min Read Published October 20, 2022
CA Nurse Practitioners and CNMs Allowed To Perform Abortions in 2023

On June 24, 2022, in a landmark decision, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. Now, individual states have the right to control abortion. Since this ruling, abortion has become a hot topic within the US. 

The State of California vows to continue to be the “Reproductive Freedom” state. On September 27, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed several new bills into law, reiterating California’s stance on abortion. SB-1375 Nursing: Nursing and nurse-midwives: abortion and practice standards, addresses nursing abortion laws. 

You can view the official statement from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office here. 

>> Nurses, Take The State of Nursing 2022 Survey (anonymously) - make your voice heard!

The Reasoning Behind the New Law 

It is projected that 26 states are likely to ban abortions. This means that more than 1.4 million more women could make the drive to California for an abortion. That is a potential increase of 2,923 percent! This would bring challenging new demands to California’s healthcare.  

California’s New Abortion Law and Nursing 

The new law is a package deal and includes several bills related to abortion. It goes into effect in January 2023 and will broaden the nursing profession.  

Under the new law, nurse practitioners (NPs) and certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) can perform abortions without the supervision of a physician in California. They can only perform them during the first trimester and only by aspiration technique.  

The first trimester of pregnancy is from time of conception to 13 weeks and 6 days gestation. 

Currently, there are only nine other states that allow NPs to perform abortions without the supervision of a physician or surgeon. 

Advanced Degree Required 

You must be either an NP or CNM to perform abortions in California.  

If you are not already an NP or a CNM, you will need to pursue an advanced practice degree first: 

  • You can learn more about becoming a nurse practitioner here.  

  • You can learn more about becoming a certified nurse-midwife here

 Additional Training 

The new law requires NPs and CNMs to complete additional training. This must include both clinical and didactic training specific to abortion. 

Additional training can be obtained through any one of the following

  • An NP or nurse-midwifery program approved by the board. 

  • A course offered by an accredited NP or nurse-midwifery program. 

  • A course offered by a board-approved continuing education provider. Must be reflective of evidence-based curriculum and training guidelines. 

  • A course approved for Category I continuing medical education. 

  • A course offered by a state or national health care professional or accreditation organization. 

  • Training based on the competency-based training protocols established by the Health Workforce Pilot Project (HWPP) No. 171 through the Department of Health Care Access and Information. 

  • Training and evaluation of clinical competency in performing abortion via aspiration technique. This must be done in a clinic or hospital. It may be provided by any of the following who have performed the procedure themselves: 

  • A physician and surgeon. 

  • An NP or CNM authorized to perform abortion by aspiration techniques pursuant to this section. 

  • A physician assistant authorized to perform abortion by aspiration techniques pursuant to Section 3502.4.” 

Financial Aid 

The cost of an advanced degree or continuing education is always a concern.  

Good news! There is financial assistance available with the new law.  

According to the legislation, there will be scholarships, stipends, and loan repayment available. These will require a 3-year term of service with a corps-approved site in California. 

Licensing Process 

The new law requires boards to expedite the licensing process for the purposes of abortion. 

Two requirements must be met to speed up the licensing process:  

  • The healthcare professional must write a letter to the board stating he/she wishes to perform abortions in California.  

  • The facility where the healthcare professional works or is contracted through must also write a letter. It must include the start date, location abortions will be performed, and scope of practice of the professional. 

Even if a healthcare professional has a disciplinary action or conviction in another state solely due to performing abortions, they can still apply to California for licensing. They must have been practicing within their scope of practice at the time of the offense. 

Can I Be Sued For Performing Abortions in California? 

The answer is no! Once the NP or CNM has met the requirements above, the new law protects them from criminal or civil lawsuit for performing abortions as long as they are practicing within their scope of practice. Their professional license is protected as well. 

Summing It Up

The new abortion law in California will make abortions more accessible. It will also increase the number of qualified providers to ensure abortion demands are met safely. It goes into effect in January 2023. 

NPs and CNMs can perform abortions without the supervision of a physician under the new law. The abortions must be done within the first trimester, and they can only be carried out via aspiration technique. 

The licensing process will be expedited for the purposes of abortion. Licensed healthcare professionals cannot be sued for performing abortions within their scope of practice. Financial aid is also available for those wishing to specialize in reproductive health. 

Something To Think About

Are you a reproductive NP or CNM in a state currently banning abortion? It might be of benefit to apply for licensing in the State of California. They now have laws to protect your practice in their state! 

>> Nurses, Take The State of Nursing 2022 Survey (anonymously) - make your voice heard!

Christy Book
Christy Book Contributor

Christy Book, BSN, RN, is a registered nurse from Louisiana. She has served as an assistant director of nursing, director of nursing, and divisional director of nursing in the long-term care setting. Other nursing experience includes medical-surgical, allied health instructor, and immigration. She is also an American Heart Association BLS Instructor. Christy’s passion for writing, researching, and educating others is what led her to become a nurse writer.

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