California pushes to expand the universe of abortion care providers

California pushes to expand the universe of abortion care providers

By Laurie Udesky for KFF Health News

California’s efforts to expand access to abortion care are enabling more types of medical practitioners to perform certain abortion procedures—potentially a boon for patients in rural areas especially, but a source of concern for doctors’ groups that have long fought efforts to expand the role of non-physicians.

The latest move is a law that enables trained physician assistants, also known as physician associates, to perform first-trimester abortions without a supervising physician present. The measure, which passed last year and took effect Jan. 1, also lets PAs who have been disciplined or convicted solely for performing an abortion in a state where the practice is restricted apply for a license in California.

Physician assistants are now on par with nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives trained in abortion care, who in 2022 won the ability to perform abortions without a doctor present.

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