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Gov. Jerry Brown
Reproductive rights got a boost Wednesday when California Gov. Jerry Brown did something that rarely happens these days—signed a bill that expands women's access to abortion.

The bill, AB 154, allows nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants to perform first-trimester abortions without a doctor's supervision:

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) introduced the measure because of concern that there are not enough physicians, especially in rural areas, to meet the needs of women who desire an abortion.

“Timely access to reproductive health services is critical to women’s health,” Atkins said in a statement. “AB 154 will ensure that no woman has to travel excessively long distances or wait for long periods in order to obtain an early abortion."

While California has far more liberal abortion laws than the majority of states, more than half the counties—particularly in conservative areas like the state's immense, agriculturally intense Central Valley—have no abortion providers or only clinics that charge fees out of the reach of low-income women. Although the state's version of Medicaid—Medi-Cal—pays for low-income women's abortions, it does so at the 1985 rate, and many clinics and hospitals will not perform abortions for that amount.

Legislators were encouraged to support the new law after a study of 11,000 abortions by researchers sponsored by the University of California, San Francisco, found scarcely a difference in the rate of complications between first-trimester vacuum aspirations performed by experienced doctors and those done by skilled non-physicians, reported Nina Martin at Pro-Publica.

In addition to AB 154, Brown signed AB 980 that was introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Richard Pan. This requires the state to dump sections of the California Building Standards Code that treat primary clinics which provide abortion services differently from clinics that don't.

Progress.

More on this can be read below the fold.

The first law will make abortion more accessible in less-populated and typically more conservative areas of California. As Martin reported, these are often places where "incomes are low, teen pregnancies are rampant, and finding an abortion provider often means taking the day off from work or school, getting on a bus, and traveling for hours or days."

The second law will end the medically unnecessary distinction between primary clinics that perform abortions and those that don't.

Across the nation, there has been a move in the opposite direction, as has been documented here for several years. From Mississippi to Kansas, the Carolinas to the Dakotas, the objective has been to curb women's reproductive rights by making it harder for abortion providers to perform the procedure made legal four decades ago by the Supreme Court. This has been achieved in a variety of ways, such as imposing rules that only affect health-care professionals who perform abortions and by applying rules to abortion clinics that clinics performing other out-patient medical procedures having similar risks to abortions don't have to meet.

Now, if only we could figure out how to reverse the trend and spread the California approach with the same speed the forced-birthers have managed.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 03:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by California politics, Pro Choice, Los Angeles Kossacks, Good News, and Daily Kos.

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