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Abortion access may increase with new bill

REGION — With San Diego Assemblymember Toni Atkins’ bill AB 154 nearing the Senate floor for final legislative approval Aug. 19, abortion access may increase in the state of California while other states address bills that would decrease abortion access. 

Atkins authored AB 154, which would allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform one specific type of surgical abortions after obtaining training and a license to perform the procedure.

“Allowing a larger group of health care professionals to offer early abortion care is one way to reduce health care disparity and increase continuity of care,” said Atkins, who represents the 78th district that includes portions of Solana Beach and Del Mar.

“California has a long history of supporting access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, and yet, even in California, almost half of the state’s counties do not have an accessible abortion provider.”

Women in California are legally allowed to obtain an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus, generally viewed as 22 to 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Current state laws only allow licensed physicians and surgeons to perform surgical abortions.

Organizations that oppose the bill argue that allowing clinicians to perform abortions would be unsafe and increase complications and deaths from the procedure.

“AB 154 is an anti-education, anti-family, anti-women bill. Abortion is a complex and risky surgical procedure,” stated a letter opposing the bill from Cherish California’s Children, a pro-life organization.

Organizations including Concerned Women for America and The Coalition for Women and Children are also campaigning against the bill.

AB 154, along with another bill designed to limit the building requirements of clinics that provide abortions, are coming before the California legislature at a time when other states are addressing bills that would restrict abortion access.

A bill in Texas seeks to ban abortions after 20 weeks and would establish strict requirements for doctors performing the procedures.

Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban abortions after the first fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.

“Throughout the U.S. we’re seeing a number of legislative acts to limit a woman’s access to abortion care. But in California, we’re one of the states that is moving forward with access and that is a really positive thing,” said Jennifer Coburn, director of communications for Planned Parenthood, a sponsor of the bill.

Atkins’ bill is heading for the California Senate after passing the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Aug. 12 and passing in the state Assembly earlier this year.