Non-Physician Abortions Signed into Law in California: Who’s Watching the Children?

On October 9, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two bills aimed at “removing barriers” to women obtaining abortions. AB 154 allows first trimester surgical abortions to be performed by midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. AB 980 repealed provisions of the building code applicable to facilities providing surgical abortions, thus allowing abortion clinics to evade building standards relating to plumbing, ventilation, and space, including maintaining separate counseling and treatment rooms.

AB 154 was preceded by a legislative grant of authority for a “pilot project” testing the safety of non-physician abortion. Given that the project was conducted and underwritten by fanatical proponents of abortion at UCSF, the results were a foregone conclusion: non-physicians with a few weeks of training can provide abortions as safely as physicians. The results of the study were trumpeted even though the study itself showed a complication rate among non-physicians that was twice that of the physicians. And those figures themselves are suspect because Planned Parenthood refused the requests of the evaluators for access to actual patient records, instead providing only abstracts prepared by Planned Parenthood. The evaluators objected that the abstracts did not provide the information necessary for a thorough review but . . .yeah . . .well . . . whatever. This is Planned Parenthood, after all.

The pilot project specifically excluded minors from participation as subjects, which raises another interesting issue.  In 1997, the CA Supreme Court ruled that the state parental consent law, passed in 1987 but never enforced, did not comport with the state constitutional right to privacy. In the course of its ruling, the Court observed that the law was unnecessary to protect minors from their own immaturity because doctors would not perform abortions on minors unless the minors were able to provide informed consent for the procedure. The Court stated:

“[P]regnant minors who do not have the capacity to provide informed consent remain fully protected [without a parental consent law], because a physician may not perform any medical procedure, including an abortion, unless he or she determines that the patient is capable of giving (and has given) informed consent.  . . . Of course, physicians are well qualified to determine a minor’s capacity to provide informed consent and regularly do so in providing medical care under California’s numerous medical emancipation statutes.”

So what would the Supreme Court say now about 13-year-old girls being able to get abortions from midwives and physician assistants without the oversight of any doctor to ensure she is mature enough to give informed consent?

Yeah . . . well . . . whatever.

Planned Parenthood and its allies poured millions of dollars into opposing parental notification in California on the theory that the well-being of minors was safe in the hands of “caring doctors.” Referring to the judicial bypass feature of the proposed laws, Planned Parenthood asserted that a scared, pregnant teenager doesn’t need a judge; she needs a doctor. Planned Parenthood now is the biggest proponent of allowing non-physicians to perform abortions. What about those caring doctors the scared, pregnant girl needs?

Yeah . . . well . . . whatever.

Indeed, the combination of AB 154 and AB 980 being enacted in the same session seems to cry out for an answer to the question: What was wrong with those “back-alley” abortions that abortion proponents kept referencing to argue for the legalization of abortion? Wasn’t it that they were done by midwives and the like, not doctors, in unsafe, non-medical settings?

Yeah . . . well . . . whatever.