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Assembly Bill 154 and Young Californians: Increasing Access to Safe Abortion Care

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September 10, 2013

California is nationally recognized as one of the most progressive states in the Union and a national trendsetter for progressive issues, including reproductive justice.  In fact, I am proud to report that the Golden State has none of the major types of abortion restrictions, such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement or limitations on publicly funded abortions, in place.

However, our lack of legal roadblocks to safe, affordable, and accessible abortion care do not mean that every Californian has the same kind of access or that access is uninhibited.  In fact, my home state is the perfect example of why the fight for reproductive justice is always important and never finished.  Assembly Bill 154, or the Early Access to Abortion Bill, is the next piece of vital legislation for Californians, specifically California youth. 

AB 154 will allow more medical professionals to provide abortion related care to their patients by allowing nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to be trained to perform first-trimester aspiration abortions. This bill is extremely important for Californians because it will expand access to safe abortion care all over the state.  For a more in-depth analysis of the full range of impacts that AB 154 would have on all Californians, check out another ChoiceWords post from last April.

From a more focused perspective, AB 154 is particularly important for young Californians who are most in need of access to abortion care because they are significantly more likely to experience unplanned pregnancies.  In fact, eight out of ten pregnancies in teens are unintended, eighty-six percent of pregnancies among unmarried women in their twenties are unplanned, and fully one-third of all unintended pregnancies are to young women.

It is therefore clear that young Californians need safe and affordable abortion care to be readily available in their communities.  The Early Access Abortion Bill would help to ensure that we have that access in a few ways.

Currently, 52% of California’s counties don’t have abortion providers, meaning that anyone living in these counties who is in need of care must be able to commit the time and money necessary to leave the county and reach a provider.  Young people may not have access to these for a few reasons.  If they are not yet independent from their parents (who may be opposed to their choice), it may be difficult or impossible to get transportation out of the county in order to receive the care they need safely.  Similarly, young Californians may have less access to money or transportation.  It is also vital that youth are not forced to leave their school or work responsibilities when they are in need of safe abortion care – we cannot jeopardize youth financial stability or academic success in the name of restricted abortion access.

Our communities need to support youth, especially during potentially difficult times like unintended pregnancy.  AB 154 would not only allow young people more access to abortion care, it would also expand access to follow up care and consultations with medical professionals surrounding the entire process through an unintended pregnancy.  This would increase the likelihood that that young Californians could get medical care they need from a trusted member of their community, reducing the fear, misunderstanding, and stigma that can be a part of their experience.  Allowing fellow community members to service the needs of people who become pregnant through every part of their medical needs will help to strengthen community support for California youth who seek out abortion care.

AB 154 is an important piece of legislation for all Californians, but especially for young people who would benefit from increased access to safe abortion care from members in their own communities.  It is essential that the reproductive justice community in California supports this legislation as it makes its way to the Governor’s desk and helps to maintain our state’s status as a progressive leader.

If you would like to tell Governor Brown that AB154 is important to you, go here: http://bit.ly/AB154

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