Sacramento – This morning the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee voted to pass AB 154 – the Early Access to Abortion Bill – by a vote of 9 to 4. The bill is expected to move to the Assembly Health Committee later this month.
While other states and Congress are moving to restrict access to reproductive health care, in California women's health and rights groups have come together to support legislation that would increase access to early abortion care in this state.
Authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, AB 154 would improve abortion access by authorizing nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform early abortions within the terms of their licenses.
"This expansion of the range of skilled and trained health professionals available to provide this procedure will improve women's health and lives," said Assemblymember Atkins.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading national organization that tracks reproductive health data, more than half of California's counties lack an accessible abortion provider. As a result, many women delay treatment because they have to travel long distances or raise money for transportation and services. AB 154 can also help overcome other barriers such as long wait times for appointments that woman in urban areas face when seeking abortion services.
AB 154 would remove these barriers to care by allowing specially trained health professionals to provide early abortions in the communities they serve. To date, more than 40 health professionals have been trained as part of a major, multi-year pilot project conducted by the University of California, San Francisco at numerous health centers across the state. Under this successful program, women received high quality care and reported that they were equally satisfied being treated by clinicians and by doctors and preferred receiving care in their own communities.
AB 154 is sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, Black Women for Wellness, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. NARAL Pro-Choice California, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. It has the support of the California Women's Health Alliance, a coalition of more than 30 women’s health and rights groups that support improving access to women’s reproductive health care.
In 2012, 43 states in the nation moved to restrict abortion access – the second highest number of restrictions on record.
In contrast, California has a long history of supporting expanding access to women's reproductive health. Affirming the importance Californians place on protecting women's reproductive health and rights, 2011 polling by the Public Policy Institute of California showed overwhelming public support for a woman's right to seek an abortion.
The California Women’s Health Alliance comprises more than 30 organizations that are dedicated to protecting and improving women’s reproductive health in the state.
California Women’s Health Alliance members:
ACCESS Women's Health Justice, ACLU of California, ACT for Women and Girls, American Nurses Association/California, Bay Area Communities for Health Education, Black Women for Wellness, Business & Professional Women of Nevada County, California Church IMPACT, California Family Health Council, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, California Nurse-Midwives Association, California Women's Law Center, Cardea Institute, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, Choice USA, Forward Together, Fresno Barrios Unidos, Khmer Girls in Action, League of Women Voters of California, NARAL Pro-Choice California, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Council of Jewish Women - California, National Health Law Program, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Network of Abortion Funds, Nevada County Citizens for Choice, Nursing Students for Choice, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles, Women's Community Clinic, Women's Health Specialists of California