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Bill to allow non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions stalls in California Senate Committee

by | Apr 28, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

While pro-lifers in California are not out of the woods yet, a bill to allow non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions has unexpectedly stalled in the state Senate’s nine-member Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. The vote was 4-4 with one Republican member absent.

Two Democrats– Sen. Juan Vargas and Sen. Lou Correa–joined two Republicans in voting against SB 1338. According to the California Catholic, the measure could come up for reconsideration.

The original version would have allowed up to 24,000 medical professionals to be able to perform abortions– trained nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and certified nurse midwives. The powerful California Nurses Association opposed it, and (for now, at least) the new version would allow only 41 “medical providers” who were trained at Planned Parenthood and Kaiser Permanente clinics under a special program run by the  University of California at San Francisco. Once that change was made, the CNA endorsed the bill.

When we wrote about the law earlier this week, it appeared certain that the proposal–co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, NARAL Pro-Choice California, the ACLU of California, and ACCESS to Women’s Justice–would clear the committee. 

Political muscle had been employed. Last week Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California began running radio ads  targeting three Democratic senators who sit on the committee, including Sen. Vargas.

The bill would allow non-physicians to perform aspiration abortions. Currently only physicians can conduct this abortion procedure, in which a powerful suction tube with a sharp cutting edge is inserted into the mother’s womb through the dilated cervix. The suction dismembers the baby’s body and tears the placenta from the wall of the uterus, sucking the baby’s remains into a collection bottle.

The bill is sponsored by pro-abortion state Senator Christine Kehoe, who was granted reconsideration, which is generally a routine courtesy.  The reason this is far from settled is that Kehoe “is the chair of the influential Appropriations Committee and her measure is being supported by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “That alone suggests it’s far from the permanent shelf.”

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Categories: Legislation