The California state Senate Monday passed a bill, 25-11, that would let nurses perform abortions.
If passed by the state's lower house and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants would be allowed to perform certain first trimester abortions, after receiving training for the procedure.
The vote was mostly along party lines with Democrats voting in favor of the measure. Only one Democrat, Sen. Lou Correa of Anaheim, voted against it, and another Democrat, San Diego's Ben Hueso, did not vote. No Republican voted yes.
The bill's sponsor in the California Assembly, Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), said the legislation is necessary to expand access to abortion.
"All women should have timely access to reproductive health care regardless of whether they live in urban or rural areas and without excessive expense or travel," she said in a statement. The bill "will help fill the gap created by the fact that over half of California's counties lack an abortion provider."
While several states have sought to increase regulation of abortion clinics this year, only New York and now California have tried to reduce regulatory hurdles for abortion clinics.
The impetus for greater regulation of abortion clinic has come, in part, from the horrors discovered during the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell was convicted of murder after jurors concluded that he delivered live babies and killed them. Pennsylvania had reduced its oversight of abortion clinics, which allowed Gosnell's clinic to operate with unsanitary conditions, the trial revealed. The trial also revealed that abortions at the clinic were often performed by non-physicians.
Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action, a pro-life advocacy organization, argued in a statement that a desire for greater access to abortion does not justify allowing nurses to perform the procedure.
"Do you let a butcher build your house because you 'deserve access to' a carpenter?" she said. "Do you let a nurse do your bypass surgery because you 'deserve access to' a cardiologist? Nowhere else does 'we really need it, therefore let unqualified people do it' make sense – and the mentality doesn't make sense here, either. In fact, it's downright dangerous.
"In the wake of Kermit Gosnell, in whose abortion facility a woman died from an untrained staff member's mistake, it's unthinkable for lawmakers in California to push a law like this. How many more times will my home state carry water for this unregulated industry which makes its money off of the vulnerable moments of women and by murdering pre-born children?"