Politics & Government

Jerry Brown expands type of providers that can perform abortions in California

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday expanding the type of medical providers that can perform abortions in California.

Assembly Bill 154, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform first-trimester abortions using a method called aspiration.

Proponents of the bill, including Democrats in the state Legislature, said it will address a shortage of abortion providers and the need for women to travel long distances for the procedure.

Brown, a Democrat, also signed AB980, by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, which requires the state building code to treat primary care clinics the same regardless of whether abortion services are provided.

“Governor Brown has always been a champion for women’s reproductive health and he’s proved it once again,” Kathy Kneer, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said in a prepared statement. “His signing of these bills comes at a critical time when other states and the Congress are moving to restrict access to reproductive health care.”

Republicans and other opponents said the legislation will lower the standard of care for women seeking abortions and will put patients at risk. The California Catholic Conference, which opposed both bills, said in a prepared statement Wednesday that they would “dramatically increase the availability of abortion in California.”

The bills were among seven health-related measures Brown announced signing Wednesday.

AB1308, by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, will allow licensed midwives to order medical supplies and devices and to administer drugs and tests without a physician’s supervision.

AB219, by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, will require health insurance policies that cover oral anti-cancer medications after Jan. 1, 2015, to limit out-of-pocket costs for those prescriptions to no more than $200 a month.

The Perea bill sunsets in 2019.

In a signing message, Brown said the limit on out-of-pocket expenses “provides good value for patients of modest means” but “is not without the potential for unintended consequences.”

“Higher drug prices, higher premium cost, and an expectation that our state laws can solve each pricing problem that arises – these cannot be the outcome of our good intentions,” he wrote. “Placing a price cap for a specific class of drugs for a specific class of diseases may not be a policy for the ages. This bill, with a sunset, permits us to examine what effects – intentional or unintended – this bill may have before we embrace it for the longer term.”