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California Increases Abortion Access

Ashley Nash |
October 22, 2013 | 9:47 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Photo from Creative Commons
Photo from Creative Commons

California became the first state to allow nurses, midwives and physician assistants to the list of officials who can legally perform abortions after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last week allowing more medical professionals access to do the procedure.

AB154 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would let nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants with special training perform abortion by aspiration -- in which the uterus' contents are suctioned out, which is the most common kind of first-trimester abortion, according to Mercury News.

It has been suggested by multiple conservative politcians and organizations that women look to abortion as a back-up plan after irresponsible decision-making. And statistics show that 47 percent of women never sought contraception during the month of their pregnancy.

Brian Johnston, executive director of the California ProLife Council, said the bill "isn't about helping women so much as about promoting abortion."

But Planned Parenthood Public Affairs Director Serena Josel said that view is not true.

“The percentage of our [teenage] patients who have abortions is actually quite low,” said Josel. “However, we always counsel everyone on their options. We want to make sure that it’s her making that decision. We also encourage patients to talk to that trusted adult in their life.”

While California leads the country in the reduction of teen pregnancy rates and now wlll enable more women to get abortions, accessibility to information and consultation remains limited across the country.

In the past year, six states passed laws that ban abortion starting at the 20th week after conception. CBS News compiled a list of 19 states that have strict abortion laws, making it extremely difficult for women residing in those areas to get an abortion. For example, 85 percent of Michigan's counties have no abortion provider. Courts blocked some of the more restrictive laws in states like Georgia and Arizona, but many women's rights organizations report that these laws hit certain communities much harder than others. Low-income and minority women are disproportionately more likely to lack health insurance, and many rely on healthcare clinics that also perform abortions for things like STD testing and cancer screenings.

Based on the results of studies by UCSF and Kaiser, Josel appears confident that if approved the bill would offer greater access to safer abortion practices, especially in rural areas.

Media Matters shows that states like Texas and North Dakota are pushing bills to increase the limitations of accessibility, "banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy." Granting, California is among the more "liberal" states in regards to the issue, not all of it's residents are in accordance.

23-year-old Irma is a resident of Gardena whose sister experienced an abortion at the age of 16. She explains that while accesibility may increase, she questions the signfiicance of safety.

“There are many different people out there who are willing to do anything for money and it’s not safe. Many people die because of medical malpractice,” said Irma. “I think [AB154] will make it easier for women—particularly teenagers—to engage in unprotected sex… and just say, ‘Oh well!’”

Pro-life advocates have similarly expressed their grievance to the AB154 bill.

“The California Catholic Conference is opposed to the bill which will lower the standard of care for California women and girls seeking an abortion,” said California Catholic Conference. 

Irma says the abortion was extremely hard on her sister, and whil her sister regretted it for a long time, having a child at 16-years-old was just not an option.

It remains to be seen whether the AB154 bill would actually encourage young women to more carelessly engage in sexual activity, or if it  give women in rural areas and from low-income communities better access to abortion services.


Reach Staff Reporter Ashley Nash here



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