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California governor signs bill expanding who can perform abortions

California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] on Wednesday signed a bill [AB-154] that allows nurse practitioners and other non-physicians to perform an early abortion during the first trimester. The bill was introduced due to a lack of physicians who could perform abortions, which was preventing women from accessing such procedures. The new law requires [NYT report] non-physicians to undergo special training in performing abortions, but opponents argued that the new law will lower the medical standards, thereby endangering women's health. In response, proponents claimed that a pilot program which started in 2007 demonstrated that complication rates for doctors and non-physicians were similar and thus, that the procedure was safe.

Abortion laws, particularly those restricting access, have been heavily challenged nationwide. Earlier this month the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed suit [JURIST report] challenging the inclusion of three abortion-related amendments in the state budget passed in June. It claimed that the amendments violate a state constitution provision known as the "single subject rule." During the same week, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law punishing doctors for knowingly performing abortions based on the race or sex of the fetus. In September the ACLU and other health organizations across Texas jointly filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] to block two provisions of a Texas abortion law that require physicians who provide abortions must obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, which could cause at least one-third of the state's licensed clinics to close. In August Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) [advocacy website] sued [JURIST report] the Indiana State Department of Health [official website] challenging a new regulation that defined facilities prescribing Mifepristone as abortion clinics and required them meet regulatory requirements of surgical facilities, even when they do not provide surgical procedures. A similar bill, which passed [JURIST report] in Alabama in April, has received criticism as a "back-door" attempt [JURIST op-ed] to circumvent a woman's right to abortion.

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