Should nurses and midwives be allowed to perform first-trimester abortions? A bill passed by the California state legislature in August and set to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown says yes.
The bill, supporters say, would broaden access to abortion in the state, especially for low-income women in rural areas, at a time when most states are trying to restrict abortion access for women. In 2012, 43 states took steps to narrow the possibilities for women seeking to terminate pregnancies.
But anti-abortion activists say that if the new law went into effect, it would endanger women’s health, even though the law requires advanced training for any non-physician who would be licensed to carry out the procedure.
“My prediction is that this type of ‘training to perform abortion’ will ultimately become a mandate under Obamacare. God have mercy on our nation,” said Dana Cody, head of the Life Legal Defense Foundation.
“California sees far too many unqualified physicians performing abortion in sub-standard clinic environments,” Cody said. “Expand that to non-physicians practicing without effective physician oversight, and it is not a pretty picture.”
Non-physicians are already allowed to perform certain types of abortions in California. Four other states — Oregon, Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire — allow trained practitioners to perform abortions.
A study published this March in the American Journal of Public Health found that of the 11,487 abortions examined by researchers between 2007 and 2011, only 1.3 percent of patients had complications — and in only six of the cases did those complications require hospital care.
The rate of complications for abortions performed by advanced practitioners, though low, was twice as high as for those done by doctors — 1.8 percent to 0.9 percent. The study called the difference “clinically equivalent.”
A Los Angeles Times editorial supporting the bill, AB-154, argued that if approved by Brown (pictured), the new law would actually benefit women’s health in the state.
“AB-154 will not lower the standard of care for women, as some opponents have argued,” the Times wrote. “If anything, it will raise the standard of care by increasing the number of trained practitioners who can perform abortions by medication or routine aspiration techniques in California, and by offering more opportunities for women seeking the procedure to be seen and treated earlier in their pregnancies.”
SOURCES: Town Hall News, Time.com, Live Action News, Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times, ACLU, American Journal Of Public Health