(Photo: Justin Short, Governor’s Office)
As many states look to curb abortion access and further regulate the practice, California's government has decided to take the opposite route.
Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that dramatically expands abortion access in California, allowing for non-physicians such as nurses to perform the abortion procedure.
Assembly Bill 154, which was sponsored by California Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, was signed into law Wednesday in San Francisco.
"Timely access to reproductive health services is critical to women's health," said Atkins in a statement.
"AB 154 will ensure that no woman has to travel excessively long distances or wait for long periods in order to obtain an early abortion. I appreciate Governor Brown's support of women's health."
AB 154 was introduced by Assemblywoman Atkins and read for the first time in January. From there it was overwhelmingly passed in both the Assembly and Senate before being presented Gov. Brown in September.
A sweeping measure, the new law expands the number of abortion providers in the state by allowing other care providers to perform the procedure, reported Michael Gardner of UT San Diego.
"The legislation…would allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives or physician assistants who complete specialized training to perform a specific type of abortion procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy," wrote Gardner.
AB 154 had the support of several pro-choice organizations, including Planned Parenthood, California Church IMPACT, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and Black Women for Wellness.
California is not the first state to have such a law, as Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire have similar measures.
Brian Johnston, director of the National Right to Life's Western regional office, has stated his disapproval for the new law.
"This bill trivializes what is taking place with abortion," said Johnston in an interview with The New York Times.
"It will massively expand the number of abortions and at the same time reduce safety. For those who say they care about women's health, they're doing the opposite, reducing the medical standards for abortion."
The success of AB 154 puts California at odds with the national trend on abortion legislation. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 68 new pro-life laws have passed in states across the country.