Opinion: Californians must advocate for Senate Bill 1375 to increase access to abortion

For Californians, there is an opportunity for reproductive health care to become more accessible than ever.

As the struggle for reproductive autonomy continues, California Senate Bill 1375 aims to increase accessibility for people wishing to have an abortion. If passed, the bill would authorize qualified nurse practitioners statewide to perform abortions without a doctor’s supervision.

California’s permanent doctor shortage left medical deserts across the state. About 40% of counties, mainly those in rural areas, do not have clinics offering abortions. These rural counties are hit the hardest by the insufficient number of doctors.

This lack of access to reproductive health services disproportionately affects people with low incomes and people of colorwho are more likely to need abortion care. In addition to that, these groups are less likely to have access to reliable transportation to a place where they can terminate their pregnancy.

On Wednesday, a majority of the California Senate voted to pass SB 1375 and ordered the bill passed in the Assembly. On Thursday, the bill was read for the first time in the Assembly.

Lawmakers must adopt SB 1375 to make reproductive health care accessible to all. Increasing the number of abortion providers will reduce inequality, expand reproductive rights, and save lives for both Californians and residents of other states.

The Supreme Court’s recently leaked draft opinion shows it is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, a monumental case that currently guarantees federal access to abortion. Across the country, people could lose their medical and personal freedoms.

In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 890, transforming California into a state where nurse practitioners can fully exercise their power. The FPA allows nurse practitioners to treat patients under the exclusive authority of the state board of nursing rather than restricting their license to oversight by the state medical board. According to American Association of Nurse PractitionersFPA states are more likely to have nurse practitioners working in rural and underserved areas.

While AB 890 allowed more practitioners to work independently of a doctor, abortion care falls outside the scope of services they could provide on their own. SB 1375 will change that, allowing experienced nurse practitioners to perform vacuum aspiration, a common technique for first-trimester abortions. These nurse practitioners will be able to work directly with communities currently underserved by the state health system.

SB 1375 will bridge racial and economic inequalities, creating a fairer system of reproductive health care.

Some fear that abortions are dangerous if they are not performed with a supervising physician; however, these concerns are unfounded. SB 1375 states that a nurse practitioner who has not completed board-certified training and achieved clinical competency would still not be permitted to perform an abortion by vacuum aspiration techniques without supervision.

Trained nurse practitioners are just as competent as doctors when it comes to performing abortions. In fact, a six-year study Researchers at UC San Francisco have found that first-trimester abortions performed by trained nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified nurse midwives are just as safe and effective as abortions performed by physicians.

The impending Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could lead to the loss of reproductive freedoms nationwide. California could become an abortion sanctuary state, allowing people from other states to come in for abortions.

“This bill can address the dual challenge of the shortage of skilled abortion providers in California coupled with the expected increase in demand for abortion services from other states,” said Julie Elginer, assistant professor to the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, in an emailed statement.

Of course, this bill alone cannot resolve the issue of access to abortion across the country, especially since many states are ready and willing to enact restrictive anti-abortion laws. However, SB 1375 is a step in the right direction.

“Even if it’s only in the state of California, just having more practitioners able to perform these (abortion) services is important in itself,” said chapter co-chair Emily Silberstein. UCLA of If/When/How, an organization for law students involved in reproductive justice. “I hope other states follow suit, and maybe we’ll see bills like this (SB 1375) in other states as well.”

Without this instrumental bill, the California health care system may not be fully prepared to handle the influx of people seeking reproductive services. Currently, there are 46,000 people of childbearing age out of state whose nearest abortion clinic is in California. According a report by the Guttmacher Institutea reproductive justice advocacy organization, that number will jump to about 1.4 million people if Roe v. Wade is canceled.

“That’s about a 3,000 percent increase in the number of people going to California, and then we’re going to need abortion providers for that,” said Cathren Cohen, a law and policy scholar at the School. of Law’s Center on Reproductive Health, Law and Policy.

The state must ensure that as many health professionals as possible are qualified to perform safe abortions.

“Passing laws like this (SB 1375) is especially important right now to give people hope, especially people in states where abortion is likely to be banned,” said Julia Anderson, Co-Chair. of If/When/How.

Adoption of SB 1375 could allow more than 30,000 trained practitioners to administer abortions independently. The likely influx of people from anti-abortion states who need abortions further justifies the need to pass this bill as soon as possible.

To support this bill, California residents should contact their local representatives and the governor’s office. Raising awareness and eradicating the stigma surrounding abortion and reproductive rights is essential. By having conversations with their peers, Californians can deconstruct misconceptions about this bill.

Body autonomy should not be limited by who you are, where you live or how much money you have. Anyone seeking an abortion should be able to receive one safely from a qualified healthcare professional.

SB 1375 is a legislative effort to make such a statement a reality in California. It must be supported by all, ensuring that an individual’s right to reproductive freedom is firmly protected.

Norman D. Briggs