State Leaders, Women’s Groups Mark 40th Anniversary of Roe by Introducing Bill to Improve Access to Abortion Services

SACRAMENTO – On the 40th Anniversary of the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, state leaders, women’s health and rights groups, announced the introduction of a bill that would improve abortion access. The bill, AB 154, authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), improves access by expanding the types of health professionals who can provide early abortions.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez; Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, Vice-Chair of the Women’s Caucus; and Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair of the Women’s Caucus, joined members of the California Women’s Health Alliance on the steps of the State Capitol to mark the 40th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ensured abortion remains safe and legal. The California Women’s Health Alliance, comprising women’s health and rights organizations, is convened by ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, ACLU of California, Black Women for Wellness, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, NARAL Pro-Choice California and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

“As a former administrator of a health clinic, I know how important timely care is for women,” said Assemblymember Atkins. “This bill will ensure that early abortion care will be available for women in California who need it.”

“For 40 years, Roe v. Wade has guaranteed that the women of America have the freedom to make the right decisions for themselves and their families, and I am proud to join my colleagues in affirming our commitment to protecting women’s rights for every Californian,” said Speaker John A. Pérez. “Roe, and reproductive rights across the country have come under a bare-knuckled attack in other states over the past few years, which is why it’s important that California continues to protect and expand women’s rights, and my colleagues and I are deeply committed to that effort.”

California has a long history of supporting a woman’s access to health care. Yet even in California, 52 percent of the state’s counties have no accessible abortion provider. In rural areas this can mean a woman has to travel five hours just to obtain services. Even women living in urban areas with local providers face overburdened clinics and long wait times that result in delays in care.

“Over the last two years, 135 laws restricting abortion were passed across the country. But here in California we do things differently,” said Amy Everitt, president of NARAL Pro-Choice California and emcee of the event. “Women in rural and urban areas around our state still face challenges in access to abortion. By passing AB 154 California can continue to lead the nation in supporting access to comprehensive reproductive health for women in their own communities by providers they know and trust.”

AB 154 would improve access by authorizing trained nurse practitioners (NPs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs) and physicians assistants (PAs) to provide early abortions. By increasing the number of trained and qualified health professionals that can provide care, this bill would allow women to obtain abortions locally from advanced trained practitioners they already know and trust. Broadening the types of health professionals who can perform abortions means women can receive a wide spectrum of reproductive health care – family planning, birth control, miscarriage management, abortion, post abortion follow up – from the same practitioner, allowing for continuity of care.

Last week the American Journal of Public Health published the results of a multi-year study that concluded that NPs, CNMs and PAs can be trained to competency and can perform early abortions as safely as physicians. Conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, the study also found that patients expressed high rates of satisfaction with the care they received from all practitioners.

By age 45 about half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy and nearly one in three will terminate her pregnancy. Seven in 10 women would have preferred to have their abortion earlier. But many women experience delays because they need time to raise money for transportation, childcare and the procedure itself.

*The California Women’s Health Alliance comprises more than 20 organizations that are dedicated to protecting and improving women’s reproductive health in the state. ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, ACT for Women and Girls of Tulare County, American Civil Liberties Union of California, Bay Area Communities for Health Education, Black Women for Wellness, California Church IMPACT, California Family Health Council, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Cardea Institute, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, Choice USA, Forward Together, Fresno Barrios Unidos, NARAL Pro-Choice California, National Health Law Program, Nevada County Citizens for Choice, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Women’s Community Clinic, Women’s Health Specialists of California