Target: California State Assembly Speaker, John Perez
Goal: Allow nurses and midwives to perform first trimester abortions in California
Legislators in California have proposed a bill that would allow nurses, midwives, and physician’s assistants to perform the most common type of early pregnancy abortion. Like most states, the California law currently states that only doctors can perform the procedure, to ensure that the care women receive is safe. In 2012, a similar bill was suggested, but was not approved because of a lack of research and a concern for women’s safety.
Researchers recently completed a study that compared the number of complications resulting from abortions performed by doctors to those performed by other health care professionals. The study found that the procedure resulted in very few complications overall, and that it was just as safe when done by non-physicians. Groups that previously opposed the bill because of a lack of research, such as the California Nurses Association, are now considering supporting it.
There are currently only four states that allow non-physicians to perform abortions. Because of this restriction, the vast majority of counties in the United States do not have abortion providers. As tends to be the case when it comes to access to health care services, this is a problem that disproportionately affects low-income women and women of color. Because so many abortion services have been restricted in most of the country, many women are forced to travel to find the health care they need. In some cases, women are forced to wait until the second trimester before they can find the appropriate services, which increases the cost and risk of complications associated with the procedure.
In many states, the moral and religious beliefs of lawmakers have influenced state policies, which has limited women’s access to safe reproductive health care. California now has the opportunity to become one of the few states to increase women’s access to health care services. When abortions are not readily available to be performed by trained and licensed health care providers, many women must resort to obtaining illegal and unsafe abortions, putting women’s lives at risk. California must approve the bill to allow trained nurses, midwives, and physician’s assistants to perform first trimester abortions so that all women will have access to the medical services they need.
Dear Mr. Perez,
Assemblywoman Toni Atkins recently introduced a bill that would allow nurses, midwives, and physician’s assistants to perform first trimester abortions. When a similar bill in 2012 failed to gain support, it was stated that more research was required to ensure that the procedure could be safely performed by non-physicians. A study has now been completed, proving that other trained medical professionals perform the procedure as safely as doctors do.
Half of the counties in California do not have abortion providers, forcing women to travel to find these necessary medical services. This lack of access to reproductive health services tends to disproportionately affect low-income women and women of color. In some cases, women are unable to obtain abortions in the first trimester, when it is safest and cheapest.
If more health care professionals were legally permitted to perform first trimester abortions, many more women would have access to the medical care they need. Please support Assemblywoman Atkins’ bill to ensure that women have safe access to reproductive health services.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: World Can’t Wait via Flickr.