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Bill to allow abortion by non-physicians goes to Jerry Brown

A bill to allow first-trimester abortions by nurse practitioners and some others is among dozens sent for the governor's signature.

August 30, 2013|By Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy
  • Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) urges lawmakers to approve her bill. Republicans said the bill would "lower the standard of care for women."
Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) urges lawmakers to approve her… (Rich Pedroncelli, AP )

SACRAMENTO — State lawmakers on Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a proposal that would allow nurse practitioners and some other non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions.

The measure was one of dozens to receive final legislative approval. Among them was a bill to require Facebook, Tumblr and other social networking sites to abide by new rules intended to protect minors who use the Internet.

The abortion bill, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), is aimed at expanding access to abortion in rural areas where a shortage of doctors makes it difficult to find someone to perform the procedure.

The bill "reaffirms California's status as a leader in the access for safe and comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all women, regardless of where they reside," Atkins told her Assembly colleagues Friday.

Republicans opposed the bill. Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) said that allowing nurse practitioners, physicians' assistants and nurse midwives to perform abortions would "lower the standard of care for women."

"Regardless of where you stand in the abortion debate, all of us should be concerned about the practical effects of allowing non-doctors to perform the procedure," Olsen said.

The California Medical Assn., which typically opposes efforts to allow non-doctors to conduct medical procedures, supported the measure. The group said in a statement this week that its concerns about patient safety had been addressed.

The bill would require those performing abortions to be in contact with doctors who can supervise them, although the physicians would not have to be present for the procedure.

If Brown signs the bill, AB 154, California will join four other states with similar laws — Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont.

The Internet privacy bill would prohibit websites directed at children from marketing certain products, including guns, bullets, dietary supplements and alcohol, to minors.

It also would bar the compiling of personal information provided by underage Internet users for marketing by third parties of products not allowed for sale to minors.

Additionally, the proposal, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), would require all social networking sites to immediately remove pictures and comments posted by minors who ask that they be taken down.

"Too often, a teenager will post an inappropriate picture or statement that in the moment seems frivolous or fun but that they later regret," Steinberg said in a statement. "While some social media sites already provide an 'eraser button,' this bill ensures that minors can remove this content on any site before it's sent out by a third party."

The measure was opposed by the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit group advocating for an open Internet. The group feared the bill would "have the unintended consequence of reducing minors' access to information and platforms for expression online," said Emma J. Llansó, policy counsel for the center.

Other bills approved by the Legislature on Friday would:

•Change drug sentencing laws in an effort to limit jail time for those charged with possession. The bill would redefine the legal meaning of "transporting" drugs to mean transportation for sale. AB 721 is by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, a Democrat from Gardena.

Establish a "three feet of safety" passing zone for cars trying to go around cyclists. Brown has twice vetoed similar measures. AB 1371 is also by Bradford.

Allow school districts to include instruction in violence awareness and prevention. The bill was introduced after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last year. SB 552 is by Sen. Ronald S. Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello.

Lawmakers shelved 90 bills Friday because of their cost.

One would have allowed families on welfare to receive additional aid if they have more children. Existing law prohibits an increase in such aid based on the arrival of a new child if the family has received assistance for at least 10 months before the birth.

"My heart sank," said Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who introduced the legislation. "We have to invest in young children to improve their outcome."

Mitchell noted that her bill was shelved a day after an Assembly panel voted to allocate $315 million more for prisons.

Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the panel that stopped the welfare bill, AB 271, said he supported it on merit. But it would have added $220 million in annual costs to a state budget that was balanced with some difficulty.

An Assembly committee blocked two firearms bills.

One by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) eventually would have required that all guns be "smart guns" — high-tech weapons that would recognize their owner and fire only if that owner was holding them. A legislative analysis of SB 293 said testing the new technology could create new costs for the state.

The other measure, by De Leon, would have created a 30-day amnesty period during which people who owned guns illegally could surrender them to local law enforcement without facing prosecution. Lawmakers declined to explain their decision on the bill, SB 38.

melanie.mason@latimes.com

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

Times staff writer Chris Megerian contributed to this report.

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