Two new California laws allowing non-physicians to perform abortions and repealing some building regulations that govern abortion clinics “dramatically increase the availability of abortion” in the state, said the president of the California Catholic Conference.“We oppose abortion, and until it becomes illegal, we will oppose measures which expand it — especially when it is at the expense of the girls and women undergoing the procedure,” said Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, CCC president and auxiliary bishop for the San Fernando Region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.On Oct. 9, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 154, a measure that permits nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwife or physician assistants “to perform an abortion by aspiration techniques during the first trimester of pregnancy.” These non-physician medical professionals must complete “specified training” and comply with “specified standardized procedures or protocols.”Brown also signed into law AB 980, which repeals certain regulations and sections of the California Building Standards Code that treat primary clinics differently depending on whether the clinics provide abortion services.“This change in the law will effectively create a two-tier health system,” Bishop Wilkerson said in a statement released Oct. 9 by the Sacramento-based conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic bishops.“Physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives — with eight week’s training — can now perform first trimester abortions in primary care clinics not designed for surgery,” the bishop said. “Most of their clients will be women and girls who are poor, whereas women and girls with means will seek out physicians with surgical skills and hospital-admitting privileges for their abortions.”Kathleen Domingo, life coordinator for the archdiocesan Office of Life, Justice and Peace, described it as a “great disappointment” that California legislators passed both AB 154 and AB 980, and echoed the bishop’s concern that “these bills reduce the level of medical care offered to the most vulnerable populations of women in our state — the young, the poor, and the immigrant woman as she faces an unintended pregnancy.”“We take a moment when a woman is already let down by those around her, left feeling that abortion is her only option, and offer her abortion performed by non-doctors in a facility with reduced health and safety standards,” she said. “Where are the champions of women’s health on this issue? Putting their adherence to abortion rights at all costs ahead of their common sense.”Domingo said she believes these new laws provide yet another reason to ardently promote the 74 pro-life pregnancy care centers available to women across Southern California. The locations can be found online at www.freewomensclinic.com. Bishop Wilkerson said the bishops were disappointed with both measures becoming law in their state, where “12 percent of Americans reside but 29 percent of all the nation’s abortions occur.”“The often-repeated mantra of those supporting abortions rights is that abortions ought to be safe, legal and rare,” he said. “With this change in California’s law, abortions are merely legal — no longer safe. We pray for the day when abortion is no longer legal.”Maria Luisa Torres contributed to this article.
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