April 25, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ana Sandoval, (916) 446-5247
Rebecca Farmer, (415) 621-2493, ext. 374
State Senate Committee Passes SB 1338 to Expand Reproductive Healthcare
SACRAMENTO—The California State Senate Public Safety Committee passed SB 1338, the Safe and Early Access bill in a 5-2 vote April 24. SB 1338, authored by Senator Christine Kehoe, would ensure women receive safe and early access to reproductive care by authorizing specially trained nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform early, safe abortions within the terms of their licenses. The bill, which was amended to begin holding stakeholder conversations, moves on to a Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee hearing on Thursday, April 26.
While other states and Congress are moving to restrict reproductive health care, in California nursing and medical organizations, reproductive health advocates and women's rights groups have come together to support legislation that would increase access to comprehensive reproductive health care in this state.
“California has a long history of standing up to ensure access to health care,” said Kehoe. “This year I hope that the California Legislature will continue leadership in protecting women’s health when it considers this law that will reduce barriers to abortion access.”
SB 1338 would remove barriers to care by allowing specially trained health professionals to provide early, safe abortion services in the communities they serve.
"A multi-year pilot project conducted by UCSF showed that physicians and trained clinicians can work together to help provide access to early abortion care. Under this program, women received high quality care and reported that they were extremely satisfied with care by clinicians and doctors. Women in the study also reported that they appreciated receiving care in their own communities," said Professor Tracy Weitz, PhD, a research scientist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.
Under this successful program, which was led by Professor Weitz, more than 40 health professionals have been trained at numerous health centers across the state. These clinicians currently provide medication abortions as well as services like vasectomy and colonoscopy.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading national organization that tracks abortion data, more than half of California's counties lack an accessible abortion provider. As a result, many women delay treatment because they have to travel long distances or raise money for transportation and services. SB 1338 can also help overcome other barriers such as long wait times for appointments that woman in urban areas face when seeking health care services.
SB 1338 is sponsored by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, the American Civil Liberties Union of California, ACCESS Women's Health Justice, NARAL Pro-Choice California and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. It has the support of health organizations such as the California Medical Association, Service Employees International Union, California Academy of Physician Assistants, California Association of Nurse Practitioners, California Nurse Midwives Association, American Nurses Association of California, California Family Health Council, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health and Women's Health Specialists California.
In 2011, lawmakers in other states introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions. Twenty-four states passed 92 provisions restricting access to abortion -- nearly four times the amount passed in any previous year. The Guttmacher Institute released data on April 13 detailing that just a few months into 2012, hundreds of provisions to restrict abortion access have been introduced in state legislatures around the country. Several have already been enacted.
In contrast, California has a long history of supporting expanding access to women's reproductive health. Affirming the importance Californians place on protecting women’s reproductive health and rights, March 2012 polling by the Public Policy Institute of California showed overwhelming public support for a woman’s right to seek an abortion.