On Tuesday, the California state Senate passed a measure permitting specifically trained nurse practitioners to perform abortions without the supervision of a doctor.
The legislation, SB 1375, would allow nurse practitioners who have undergone specific training to perform abortions “by aspiration techniques” in the state without being supervised by a surgeon or a physician.
Senate passes SB 1375 to review requirements for abortion training for nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, physicians assistants.
Also aims to address gaps in abortion access in areas served primarily by religiously affiliated hospitals.
— Ashley Zavala (@ZavalaA) August 30, 2022
An aspiration abortion is also known as a machine vacuum aspiration, during which a physician uses a vacuum to remove the contents of a pregnant woman’s uterus, thus removing an unborn fetus from her body with a suction device. The procedure can take around three hours to complete if the woman is between four and ten weeks pregnant, but if she is further along, the procedure could be longer, or she might need to come back to the doctor’s office multiple times, according to UCSF Health. The site also noted that most people who go through the procedure take medication for anxiety.
Manual vacuum aspiration is another form of abortion performed in early pregnancy. In the procedure, a syringe is used as the suction device.
“As judges and lawmakers across the country continue to throw pregnant women into impossible and perilous positions, I am proud that California is resolutely moving in the opposite direction,” Senate President pro Temper Toni Atkins said.
“Abortion is health care—period. And like other medical decisions, it is a private conversation between patients and their health care providers. By expanding the number of nurse practitioners who can perform first trimester abortions, SB 1375 would give more people the ability to get the timely, essential care they need from a provider they know and trust,” Atkins added. “We need to do everything we can to ensure abortion care is not only protected, but expanded in California.”
The measure now heads to Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for signature. The bill is also intended to create more positions for people to carry out abortions. California is expected to receive more women from outside of the state whose home states restrict the procedure.
“California is facing a serious doctor shortage that is only anticipated to worsen over the next 10 years. It would leave countless women and families at great risk, but there is a solution in front of us—nurse practitioners,” Atkins said. “We have a workforce of trained and experienced nurse practitioners across the state who are ready to help fill the provider gap. With SB 1375, we can ensure more patients have access the quality, affordable reproductive care they need and deserve.”
The state has been preparing to become a place to which women can travel in order to get abortions as pro-life states across the country outlaw or severely limit the ability to get an abortion. California is set to allocate up to $20 million to assist women from outside states to get abortions in California. A new amendment was unveiled on Friday that would permit the state to spend public funds on out-of-state travel for abortions.