In a time where states are overwhelmingly passing anti-choice laws, California stands out as one of the few states which is actually taking measures to ensure a woman’s right to reproductive health services. Last Wednesday, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed The Early Access to Abortion Bill into law. The law now makes it possible for nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform first-trimester aspiration abortions. Only four other states (MO, NH, OR, VT) also allow nurse practitioners to perform the procedure.
There is no reason why trained nurses should not be allowed to perform the early abortion procedure. A study by the University of California at San Francisco found that the rate of complications for the procedure was nearly the same for physicians and nurses. They analyzed nearly 11,500 aspiration abortions and found that the rate of complication was under 2% for both groups.
This move on California’s part could have a great impact on the fight for choice – and not just for the women of the California. Throughout the nation, politicians have been using the case of Kermit Gosnell as grounds for increasing restrictions on abortion and abortion providers. But, as MSNBC News reporter Irin Carmon pointed out, allowing nurses to perform abortions is the logical way to prevent Gosnell cases from happening again.
“It’s the logic of cause and effect: If you make it easier to access an abortion, earlier, and from a legitimate provider, there will be fewer desperate customers turning to unsafe providers…Women who went to Gosnell, sometimes repeatedly and usually without complaint, plainly felt they had no other choice. They were predominately low-income and women of color–the same groups that will be the likeliest to benefit from California’s law, since research shows that they are more likely to see nurse practitioners or physician assistants than obstetricians and gynecologists.”
After seeing how well this works for California, it will be difficult for politicians to logically argue that abortion clinic restrictions help protect women. But, of course, we know that the anti-choice groups really don’t care about logic. They just seize any case of abortion complications or malpractice they can find and use it to justify their agenda to take away women’s rights.