Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed 25 health-related bills, including controversial legislation that extends for two years a study program that allows non-surgical abortions to be performed by a limited number of nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants.
Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) introduced SB 623 to expand access to abortion for women, especially in rural areas where physicians are not as available.
The bill was supported by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and the American Civil Liberties Union of California, which argued that many women do not have enough access to early, safe abortions because of the limited number of physicians performing the procedure.
The measure was opposed by the California Right to Life Committee Inc., which argued that having non-physicians performing abortions puts women's health at risk.
Brown also signed legislation that would improve breast cancer detection and give women easier access to birth control.
SB 1538 mandates that women who go in for screenings be informed if they have dense breast tissue and how that may affect the results of their mammogram and their risk of cancer. It also encourages women to speak with their physicians about whether additional screenings might be warranted.
"This is about a patient's right to know," Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who sponsored the legislation, said in a prepared statement. "Patients with dense breast tissue need to know that it can hide a cancer and that additional screening options are available. Early detection is the key."
The new law takes effect April 1, 2013.
Earlier in the day, Brown was in South Los Angeles to sign legislation that allows registered nurses to give out hormonal contraceptives to women under a standardized procedure.
That law "also allows RNs to dispense drugs and devices upon an order by a certified nurse-midwife, a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant while functioning within specified clinic settings," the governor's office said.
AB 2348 was supported by groups like the American Medical Women's Assn., the California Primary Care Assn., California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and Black Women for Wellness, among many others.
Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) wrote the legislation and called Brown's action "the culmination of our hard-fought effort to expand access to birth control for women who need it." The law takes effect Jan. 1.
Brown signed the bill Saturday morning at Planned Parenthood's local headquarters and cast the event as a reaffirmation of "every woman's basic constitutional rights."
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards applauded the action and in a prepared statement said that "by enacting this bill, California was once again setting an example of national leadership at a critical time when access to healthcare is under attack."
In other matters, Brown vetoed five bills, including a measure that would have clarified that state law requires restaurants to maintain health and cleanliness standards for indoor play areas, such as ball pits found at many fast-food businesses.
Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa) introduced AB 1513 after a group called Kids Play Safe did tests on some indoor playgrounds and found bacteria including coliform, which comes from fecal matter.
But Brown was not convinced that additional state action was needed. He said local health inspection agencies were already responsible for enforcing those laws.