California Considers Expanding Non-Physician Abortion

Update: LLDF has sent a letter to the California Assembly Health Committee voicing opposition to AB 154, and has also prepared a factsheet detailing reasons for opposing this harmful legislation. AB 154 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on April 23. Before that date, it is essential that members of the committee hear from you. Call or email the members of this committee and urge them to oppose this harmful legislation.

On April 9, 2013, by a vote of 9-4, the California Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection approved a bill to expand non-physician abortion in the state.

AB 154 would allow nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform aspiration abortions after completing on a training course. The training is based on protocols developed in the Health Workforce Pilot Project, HWPP No. 171, under which a specific number of non-physicians were trained for abortion. Under AB 154, the training would be expanded to become a regular channel for producing additional abortionists.

Proponents of the bill claim that this is necessary to expand access to abortions, but are apparently undeterred by the very real possibility of decreasing the quality of care for patients.

Under the Pilot Project, HWPP No. 171 (the precursor to this bill), reports indicated an increased risk to women. In December 2011, an 80% increase in complications was reported when non-physicians performed surgical abortions. These complications included “incomplete abortion, failed abortion, hemorrhage/excessive bleeding, hematometra, infection, cervical injury, and uterine perforation. The non-physicians had a reported 141 total complications for women while the Physicians had 78 complications. There is nothing in AB 154 to remedy this increased risk of danger for women undergoing abortions by less-than-qualified medical professionals.

“AB 154 is based on flawed and incomplete research and will increase danger to women. It is horrific enough that unborn children are dying in abortion clinics everyday – now women’s lives are put at further risk,” comments Dana Cody, President and Executive Director of LLDF. “My prediction is that this type of ‘training to perform abortion’ will ultimately become a mandate under Obamacare. God have mercy on our nation.”

Bolstering the arguments in favor of the bill, a recent American Journal of Public Health article gives a glowing report on the Pilot Project, concluding that there is not a significant difference in clinical complications between physician and non-physician abortions. However, the paper fails to take into consideration the difference between a controlled environment an and an uncontrolled environment in healthcare. In the Pilot Project, a physician oversaw all the abortions and screened patients for contraindications. If AB 154 becomes law, that cautionary step will be done away with, and patients will be deprived of the care they deserve. “California sees far too many unqualified physicians performing abortions in sub-standard clinical environments,” Cody points out. “Expand that to non-physicians practicing without effective physician oversight, and it is not a pretty picture.”

Action Item: AB 154 has been sent to the Committee on Health. If you are a California resident, contact your member of the California Assembly and members of the Committee on Health and urge them to oppose this harmful legislation.


Why Abortion Practices are in need of Reform and Regulation