Yet Another Non-Physician Abortion Bill
This week California State Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) introduced a new bill to legalize abortion by certain non-physicians, SB 623. The bill would extend the duration of the Health Workforce Pilot Project No. 171 (the training program for non-physician abortionists) through January 1, 2014. The reason for the extension is to try to prove the Project’s effectiveness through publication of the data collected on non-physician abortion. Persons trained under the Pilot Program would be allowed to continue performing abortions despite the fact that California law specifically prohibits non-physicians from performing surgical abortion.
While narrower than SB 1338 (defeated in committee last month), SB 623 presents continued serious threats to the safety and well-being of women. In fact, Sen. Kehoe used a round-about way to introduce this legislation: SB 623 was originally a proposal for regulation of toxic paint used on boats. With a sweeping amendment, that language has been replaced with this abortion-expansion plan. SB 623 has been referred to Assembly Rules Committee.
“This is no more than the use of parliamentary procedure to pull a bait and switch,” states Dana Cody, President and Executive Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation. “Any data forthcoming from this legislation will doubtless be used to expand non-physician abortions in the State of California, to say nothing of the risk to women currently undergoing these ‘pilot project’ abortions.”
To see LLDF’s factsheets outlining the objections to the Pilot Program that is currently training non-physicians to perform surgical abortion, and SB 1338, visit http://www.lldf.org/wp-content/uploads/SB1338-FACTSHEETS.pdf. These objections remain, and are underscored by this newest legislative attempt.
Action Item: contact the Assembly Rules Committee members and ask them to OPPOSE SB 623.
Action Item for California Citizens:
Please search (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html) for Senate Bill 1338 to see the current status and history of the bill. Write to your senator, and to the appropriate committee, its members and the bill’s authors and sponsors expressing your opposition to allowing non-physicians to legally perform abortions within your state.
[Updated (6/14/2012) factsheet available in PDF.]
SB 1338 would authorize 41 non-physicians (nurses and physician assistants) to do surgical abortions under a revolutionary Project called HWPP #171. SB 1338 is based on flawed and incomplete research and is dangerous to women.
• NO INDEPENDENT ACADEMIC INVOLVEMENT OR PEER REVIEW
The Project was orchestrated not by an independent academic source but by vested interest agents at UCSF’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, directed by Dr. Philip Darney. The Bixby Center itself was the beneficiary of Project funds. The California Nurses Association has objected that there was no independent peer review of this Project.
• DUBIOUS FUNDING
The Project to train non-physician abortionists was primarily financed by a major ($3.5 million) donor whom UCSF refuses to identify. Why is this donor being kept anonymous? Will it be an embarrassment to the Legislature if/when the identity of the donor who effectively paid for this law is revealed?
As to Project expenditures, UCSF/Bixby Center has NOT provided an accounting for 2/3 of the $3.9 million collected for the Project, despite a Public Records Act request.
• BAD POLICY, BAD LAW
SB 1338 has now been narrowed so that only the 41 persons who participated in the Project will get the benefit of legal protection from prosecution. It is illegal for non-physicians in California to perform surgical abortion. SB 1338 elevates this one privately and anonymously funded project, HWPP #171, to the status of a state policy, determining who is and is not guilty of a crime. This is a bad way to make law.
• NO PROFESSIONAL OVERSIGHT
Neither the Medical Board of California nor the Nursing Board had any oversight of the Project.
• GREATER HARM TO WOMEN:
INCREASED COMPLICATIONS FOR GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN
The Project reported in December 2011 an 80% increase in complications when non-physicians performed surgical abortions. No explanation was given as to why complications increased. They reported that 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.
• LACK OF PHYSICIAN OVERSIGHT FOR CONTRAINDICATED CONDITIONS
The Project reported that several hundred of the patients sampled were deemed ineligible to participate in the Project by the supervising physicians, because of various conditions including medical abnormalities and incomplete surgical or medication abortions. Under SB 1338, there will be no “supervising physician” to screen out these at-risk patients.
• MERELY ONE WEEK OF TRAINING
According to the Project’s “Early Abortion Training Workbook” the entire training period for each non-physician abortionist was only “2-5 days of simulated and hands on training” in order to perform 20-50 first trimester surgical abortions.
* Life Legal Defense Foundation prepared this Fact Sheet based upon public records. A hearing is scheduled for May 10, 2012, on a Writ of Mandate to require UCSF to disclose vital information relating to HWPP #171 that it has withheld from the public.