Improving abortion access in California

Women in California will now have greater access to safe and comprehensive reproductive health care, thanks in large part to research conducted by the UCSF Bixby Center. California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill (AB 154) that removes barriers to abortion access by allowing nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to utilize their education and training to perform early abortion care. The law aims to increase access to high-quality abortion care in areas where few, if any, doctors perform such services. Notably, this was the only state legislation enacted in 2013 that expanded – rather than restricted – abortion access for women.

The bill is based on long-term research conducted by the Bixby Center’s Diana Taylor, professor emerita of the UCSF School of Nursing, and Tracy Weitz, formerly an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Services at UCSF. Their six-year study, called the Health Workforce Pilot Project #171, found that nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants with special training provide safe aspiration abortions on par with physician providers. Their research also has found that women appreciate receiving care in their own communities from providers they know and trust, rather than having to travel to geographically distant physicians.

In addition to the Bixby Center, many other partners were involved in the effort to expand women’s access to safe abortion care in California through the bill. Key partners include:

  • ACCESS: Women’s Health Justice
  • American Nurses Association-California
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
  • Black Women for Wellness
  • California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
  • California Women’s Health Alliance
  • California Academy of Family Physicians
  • California Association for Nurse Practitioners
  • California Academy of Physician Assistants
  • California Medical Association
  • California Nurse-Midwives Association
  • Nation Association of Social Workers-California
  • NARAL Pro-Choice California
  • Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
  • SEIU-California

The Bixby Center supported this research through its partner program ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health), a collaborative research group that aims to ensure reproductive health care and policy are grounded in evidence through multi-disciplinary research, training and advocacy.