Senate Leader Atkins Introduces Legislation to Further Expand Reproductive Care Training, Widen Abortion Access

February 13, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Building on her successful 2022 legislation to broaden reproductive care access, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) has introduced legislation to expand and modernize reproductive care training for physician assistants.

“This year, as we watch other states continue to erode access to abortions, it’s clear that we need to continue to do everything we can to increase the number of trained providers available to Californians and those who need to come here for reproductive health care,” said Pro Tem Atkins, who early in her career worked as director of clinical services at a women’s health care clinic in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Senate Bill 385 would apply the same training standards to physician assistants that SB 1375 established for nurse practitioners and certified nurse-midwives, allowing them to provide first trimester abortions within the scope of their clinical and professional education and training. Pro Tem Atkins’ SB 1375, which went into effect this year, followed Pro Tem Atkins’ AB 154, which became law in 2013 and allowed qualifying advanced practice providers to provide first trimester abortions. 

Specifically, SB 385 would also better align abortion training to physician assistants’ scope of practice and provide multiple options for clinicians to get trained in abortion care. The bill would further widen access to abortion services and health care by increasing the number of practitioners available to provide this critically-needed care. Improving access to training and eliminating workforce barriers that reproductive care providers face is in keeping with policy recommendations by the California Future of Abortion Council, a coalition of reproductive freedom and health care allies, including Pro Tem Atkins, who are focused on expanding access to abortion.

Pro Tem Atkins has long been committed to expanding reproductive care access in California, and last year, authored a constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to abortion and contraceptives in California. SCA 10 received widespread support in both houses and was an integral component of the Legislative Women’s Caucus’ Reproductive Justice package, which included more than a dozen bills to address the nationwide threat to reproductive rights. The constitutional amendment became Proposition 1 and was approved by a majority of California voters in November 2022, further solidifying California’s standing as a nationwide leader on reproductive rights.

What others are saying about SB 385:

“SB 385 will expand California’s network of abortion providers and strengthen the abortion workforce. At a time when we are seeing attack after attack on abortion access and rights, it is imperative that California can meet the demand of patients in our state and coming to our state for abortion services.”

-- Molly Robson, Vice President of Government Affairs, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California 

“Streamlining abortion training for Physician Assistants is critical to expanding access to skilled abortion care. Across our state, people should have access to care from a trusted provider in their community.” 

-- Flor Hunt, Executive Director TEACH

“With 17 states and counting enforcing abortion bans, California must use every tool in our toolbox to ensure people can access the care they need. While California is a Reproductive Freedom State, provider shortages continue to present barriers to abortion access. SB 385 will help grow California’s abortion provider network by expanding training opportunities for physician assistants and ensuring more PAs are able to provide abortion care. We thank Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins for continuing to champion reproductive freedom, and NARAL Pro-Choice California and our more than 371,000 members look forward to fighting by her side to make sure this bill becomes law.” 

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


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:

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