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Bill To Expand Abortion Access To Go Before California Legislature

Aired 4/23/12 on KPBS News.

A bill that could increase the number of abortion providers in California gets its first hearing in the state legislature.

— A bill designed to expand access to abortion in California will get its first hearing in the state legislature on Tuesday. The measure would greatly increase the number of providers who could do non-surgical abortions.

State Senator Christine Kehoe, who represents San Diego, wrote the bill.

It would let nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants perform first-trimester abortions using a suction method. There are an estimated 24,000 such providers in California.

Currently, only doctors can provide abortions involving vacuum or suction procedures. Under the bill, other healthcare providers would have to get special training.

Jennifer Coburn is with Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. She said the bill is needed because about half of all California counties don't have an abortion provider.

"A woman has the right to choose in the United States, and the right to choose is only meaningful if there's access to that right to choose," Coburn said.

Critics says the measure would lower the medical standards for abortions and would put women at risk.

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