NRL News

Bill to allow non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions pulled by California Senate sponsor

by | May 7, 2012

Pro-abortion California State Senator Christine Kehoe


By Dave Andrusko

When we last wrote about a proposal to allow non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions in California, the measure had failed to secure enough votes in a key committee but proponents had the support of key leaders in a legislature dominated by pro-abortion Democrats. (See

But the controversial measure suffered enough setback last week. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that state Senator Christine Kehoe, the sponsor of  SB1338,  pulled the bill Friday when she said she lacked enough votes in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee where the bill had already failed once.

“The issue of access to early abortion care for women across California remains an important issue and we will continue to review our options for ensuring that all women have access to care by providers they know and trust in the communities where they live,” Kehoe said in a statement.

However the Times quickly added, “The proposal is not dead. Many bills get bottled up in committee only to make it to the floor later in the session because of compromises or last-minute legislative maneuvers.”

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.

When we first wrote 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 Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee

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

However the bill 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. Vargas and Sen. Lou Correa–joined two Republicans in voting against SB 1338.

The original version would have allowed up to 24,000 medical professionals to be able to perform abortions–-trained nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and certified nurse midwives. The powerful California Nurses Association opposed it, and the subsequent 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.

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