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California Bill would allow non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions

by | Apr 26, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion state Senator Christine Kehoe

The California Senate Public Safety Committee Tuesday passed a measure that would allow non-physicians to perform first-trimester aspiration abortions. SB 1338, passed strictly along party lines, now moves to the Senate Business and Professions Committee where it will be heard on Thursday.

In some accounts the measure, sponsored by pro-abortion state Senator Christine Kehoe,  was described as “scaled back,” which is incomplete, if not misleading, on several fronts. The original version would have allowed  “trained nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and certified nurse midwives to perform aspiration abortions,” according to the Sacramento Bee. 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.

Under the amended version 41 “medical providers” (nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants) who had been trained in the aspiration technique and which they’d performed at Planned Parenthood and Kaiser Permanente clinics, would be authorized to perform these abortions, the Huffington Post reported. 

These 41 were part of a five-year research project begun in 2007 under the eye of Tracy Weitz, an associate professor at University of California at San Francisco who led the study. Although the study will not end until this fall, USCF researchers argued they had enough evidence to conclude that “that nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants can perform the abortions as safely as physicians,” according to the Huffington Post.

Indeed one of the objections the California Nurses Association voiced was the program is not complete and the study has not been peer reviewed. Weitz dismissed this concern, telling the Huffington Post that “aspiration abortion is ‘medically very simple and has very rare complications’ and that opponents were conflating the social and political aspects of abortion with the medical reality.”

Brian Johnston is executive director of the California Pro-Life Council. He told NRL News Today that a Planned Parenthood representative argued that “technology has changed,” and therefore the reason that the law had allowed only physicians to perform abortions—safety—no longer applies.

Johnston pointed out the deliberate distortion—that while there are new ways of performing abortions (RU486 abortions, for example), aspiration abortions is NOT one of them. He cited the concerns of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a co-founder of NARAL who himself performed abortions before becoming became pro-life, about the inherent dangers of the technique.

Johnston told NRL News today that when he presented his remarks Tuesday Vice-Chair Senator Joel Anderson, who opposes the measure,  attempted to ask a relevant question. However the pro-abortion Chair, Sen. Loni Hancock,  gaveled Johnston down, and refused to allow any further discussion of that matter.

Sen.  Anderson said the measure was specifically meant to benefit Planned Parenthood. “This bill seems to be geared to expand their business at all costs,” he said.

Currently, non-physicians are allowed to perform aspiration abortions in New Hampshire, Vermont, Montana, West Virginia, Oregon, and (by administrative order) New York.

“They are running out of the number of doctors who are willing to become abortionists,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of NRLC’s Department of State Legislation. “They know that the only way to continue this deadly practice is to broaden the category of ‘practitioners’ who can take the lives of these little ones.”

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Categories: Abortion
Tags: abortion