Senate Leader Atkins Introduces Legislation to Expand Access to Abortion Services, Health Care for All Californians

March 3, 2022

SACRAMENTO – Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) announced today that she has introduced a bill to clarify existing law that allows nurse practitioners meeting specified criteria to practice without physician supervision, including first trimester abortion care.

SB 1375 would help address the shortage of health care professionals projected for California and complements recommendations from the California Future of Abortion Council as a way to strengthen abortion care. The bill would widen access and affordability to abortion services and healthcare by increasing the number of nurse practitioners able to provide critically-needed care, especially for marginalized and lower-income communities.

“With an increasing shortage of providers, far too many Californians are struggling to get the care they need, when they need it,” said Pro Tem Atkins. “Patients—especially pregnant people considering abortion—don’t have time to waste. That’s why it is so important that highly skilled, qualified nurse practitioners have the opportunity to practice independently, including the ability to provide first term abortions.”

The bill would clarify provisions set forth in law by Assemblymember Jim Wood’s AB 890 and Pro Tem Atkins’ own AB 154, which was signed into law in 2013.

AB 890 authorizes nurse practitioners who meet certain requirements to practice without physician supervision and defines eligibility for those who practice independently to include certification from a nationally-accredited certifying entity and completion of postgraduate transition to practice, which under AB 890 is set at three full-time years of practice while working under physician supervision. Atkins’ SB 1375 would clarify that nurse practitioners who have been practicing for three or more years satisfy the transition to practice requirement established in AB 890, and could also utilize prior practice experience to satisfy the requirement.

“Senate President Pro Tempore Atkins has long been a champion of increasing access to health care, especially women’s reproductive rights,” said Assemblymember Wood (D-Santa Rosa), who is a principal co-author on SB 1375. “Given that too many states are passing laws restricting a woman’s right to choose, I am proud to coauthor SB 1375 which will maximize the ability of our professional nurse practitioners to help women get the care they need.”

The bill also would build upon AB 154, authored by Pro Tem Atkins in 2013, which increased the types of trained health professionals who can provide early abortions by allowing nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform early abortions safely within the terms of their licenses. SB 1375 would update statutes relating to early abortion services to allow nurse practitioners qualified to practice independently to provide first trimester abortion care, thus creating a mechanism for thousands of experienced nurse practitioners in California to begin expanding access to patients in need of these services.

“The California Association for Nurse Practitioners is proud to sponsor SB 1375 and we are thankful to President Pro Tem Toni Atkins for her continued leadership in ensuring that women and all Californians have access to the care they need,” said Patti Gurney, President of the California Association for Nurse Practitioners (CANP). “It is important that restrictions on practice be removed so that patients can receive timely, uninterrupted, and high-quality care in all health settings. As nurses, our patient's needs are always first and foremost.”

A projection by the California Future of Health Workforce Commission, comprised of a statewide group of senior leaders across multiple sectors, found that within the next decade, California will face a shortfall of more than 4,100 primary care clinicians, with a disproportionate impact on the seven million Californians living in counties already experiencing shortfalls of primary care, dental care, or mental health care providers. The majority of populations in those federally-designated areas are Latino, Black, and Native American.

The shortfall raises concerns about the impact of California’s workforce shortage on health equity and access.

“Families who live in clinic deserts found throughout the state have a particularly difficult time accessing primary care, because there simply are not enough providers available to them. Nurse practitioners can help fill that growing need,” Pro Tem Atkins said. “When nurse practitioners are able to work independently, underserved communities—which are predominantly communities of color—benefit from an increase in access to services. SB 1375 would create opportunities for more Californians to receive the care they need, regardless of their zip code.”

What Others Are Saying About SB 1375:

“SB 1375 is a step towards expanding California’s network of abortion providers and addressing the recommendations brought forth by the California Future of Abortion Council to expand the abortion workforce. Too many Californians must travel great distances to access their constitutionally protected right to abortion. As we see patients forced to seek abortion and reproductive health care in California because of hostile bans in their home states, this legislation will improve the network of available providers by ensuring that nurse practitioners can provide care, including abortion, in independent settings and increase access to these services throughout the state.”

  • Jodi Hicks, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California

“With the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade later this year, it is critical that California has the policies and providers necessary to meet the moment. In California, over 40% of counties do not have clinics that provide abortion. SB 1375 will open up a host of qualified providers who can fill that gap, providing care not only for Californians, but for those who may seek care outside of their own states should Roe fall. Thank you to Senate President pro Tempore Atkins for taking this critical step to ensure all people in California have equitable and timely access to the care they need and championing California’s role as a Reproductive Freedom State.” 

  • Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director, NARAL Pro-Choice California

“As a physician and an abortion provider, I can attest to the need for improved access to safe abortion care in California. That need will only increase as other states further restrict access. SB 1375 will help to allow more NPs to provide early abortion care.”

  • Dr. Daniel Grossman, MD, Director, Advancing New Standards for Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

“Nurses see the impact that California’s health care provider shortage has on patients every single day. Women cannot and should not have to wait for access to the care they need – especially when it comes to their reproductive health. American Nurses Association\California strongly supports SB 1375 to ensure that Californians can get the high-quality care they need and that women are able to keep their reproductive freedom intact in our state.” 

  • Dr. Marketa Houskova, DNP, MAIA, BA, RN, Executive Director, American Nurses Association\California


En Español

Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: