California is primed to counter a national trend of states restricting abortions with a proposed law that would expand women’s access to the procedure. The new bill, which was approved by the state senate on Monday, would allow nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and certified nurse midwives to perform abortions within the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. The bill is expected to be approved by the state assembly this week.
The law would make California the fifth state to allow non-physician abortions, joining Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont. Proponents of the bill say the aim is to provide access for women in rural areas. Half of the counties in California do not have a physician to perform abortions. According to a University of California-San Francisco study, 87 percent of counties in the U.S. do not have local abortion facilities.