A proposal to let medical professionals other than doctors perform an early abortion procedure advanced Tuesday in the Assembly.
Assembly Bill 154, by Democratic Assemblywoman Toni Atkins of San Diego, would authorize nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants who undergo training to conduct aspiration abortions, a procedure that uses a suction method to remove a fetus early in a pregnancy.
The bill cleared the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on an 8-4 vote, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed.
The measure would expand a state pilot program that's been in effect since 2007, and supporters say it would ensure women have early and safe access to abortion providers in their communities.
Critics at the hearing raised concerns about safety, training and expanding access to abortion in general, especially among teenage women.
An earlier attempt to allow non-doctors to perform the procedure fell short last year. The California Nurses Association opposed that proposal, raising concerns that a full study of the pilot program had not been completed.
Call Torey Van Oot, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5544. Follow her on Twitter @capitolalert.