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Calif. Referendums Could Block Laws That Expand Abortion Access

Calif. Referendums Could Block Laws That Expand Abortion Access

November 12, 2013 — Opponents of new California laws (AB 154, AB 980) that aim to expand abortion access have launched referendum efforts that would block the state from implementing the laws, City News Service/Los Angeles Daily News reports.

California's secretary of state on Thursday gave the referendums' proponents permission to start collecting signatures to place the measures on the ballot. They need to collect 504,760 registered voters' signatures by Jan. 7 to put the measures before voters (City News Service/Los Angeles Daily News, 11/8).

Details on New Law

AB 154, championed by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D), allows nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform aspiration abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy. The measure requires the providers to complete specific training and comply with standardized medical protocols.

Nearly 50 nurse practitioners and other non-physicians already have completed training to provide first-trimester aspiration abortion under the new law. It is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/10).

AB 980 repeals a section of the California Building Standards Code that treats primary care clinics differently if they provide abortion services.

Key Arguments

Supporters of AB 154 say it will improve abortion access for women in parts of the state with few providers. There are no abortion providers in more than half of the state's 58 counties, according to the law's supporters.

In an emailed statement, Atkins said, "The voters of California have consistently rejected attempts to restrict women's access to these services and I am confident the voters will once again defend the reproductive rights of California women."

Abortion-rights opponents argue that allowing non-physicians to perform abortions is dangerous and will lead to more abortions (Gardner, U-T San Diego, 11/7).