Abortion battle could ripple into California by Dan Morain at the Sacramento Bee
California might seem worlds away from its next-door neighbor on the issue of abortion. In many ways, it is. This state’s supreme court legalized abortion in 1969, four years before Roe v. Wade. California protects the right of privacy for everyone, including women wrestling with the most personal of issues. That’s how it ought to be.
But even here, access to abortion remains an issue. In contrast to what is happening in most of the nation, however, legislators here are looking for ways to solve that issue, to their credit.
Five of the seven California counties with the highest rates of teenage births are in the southern end of the Central Valley. Tulare and Kern counties are first– and second-worst, followed by Kings, Madera and Fresno counties.
Not coincidentally, access to family planning and clinics that provide Medi-Cal abortions for low-income women is tight in those counties. There’s one provider in Kern County, none in Tulare and Kings counties, two in Fresno, and one in Madera County, according to Access Women’s Health Justice, which compiles such information.
Under current California law, only physicians are permitted to perform abortions. That limits access, given that doctors are scarce in much of the state.
At the behest of Planned Parenthood and its allies, and backed by many physicians, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, is carrying a bill to authorize nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physicians’ assistants to be trained to perform first-trimester abortions.
Also at Planned Parenthood’s urging, Assemblyman Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat who is a doctor, is pushing AB 980 to ease outdated building standards that are unique to clinics where abortions are performed and can add 20 percent to construction costs.