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

May 8, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 385 passed out of the Senate today on a 28-8 vote. The bill, authored by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), would expand and modernize reproductive care training for physician assistants, increasing and reinforcing the abortion provider workforce in California.

“SB 385 is integral to California’s efforts to strengthen our abortion provider workforce and streamline training standards,” said Pro Tem Atkins. “In California, we are doing all we can to ensure that our state continues to be a safe haven for those seeking and providing reproductive health care in California.”

Senate Bill 385 would better align abortion training to physician assistants’ scope of practice and clear pathways for physician assistants to meet requirements to perform aspiration abortions. The bill would further allow physician assistants to perform aspiration abortions without the direct supervision of a physician. The bill intends to widen access to abortion services by increasing the number of practitioners available to provide this critically needed care.

“We have been and remain in an all hands on deck situation in California,” said Dr. Juliana Melo, a practicing OB/GYN and co-chair of the Committee on State Legislation for the American College of OB/GYNs District IX , “The American College of OB/GYN’s has long supported the assistance of trained advance practice clinicians – like PA’s – to perform and/or to assist physicians in providing important services related to reproductive healthcare, and this includes the ability to perform first trimester abortions within their scope.  SB 385 establishes an appropriate pathway to ensure PA’s are sufficiently and adequately trained to perform first trimester aspiration abortions safely and effectively.”

Senate Bill 385 would apply the same training standards to physician assistants that Pro tem Atkins previous bill 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 training. SB 1375, which went into effect earlier this year, followed Pro Tem Atkins’ AB 154, which became law in 2013 and allowed qualifying advanced practice providers to provide first trimester abortions. 

SB 385 is one of 17 bills proposed by the Legislative Women’s Caucus, in partnership with the California Future of Abortion Council, in their 2023 bill package on reproductive justice and abortion rights.

Last year, Pro Tem Atkins authored a constitutional amendment, SCA 10, to enshrine the right to abortion and contraceptives in California. A majority of California voters approved the amendment in November as Prop 1; further solidifying California’s standing as a nationwide leader on reproductive rights.

Senate Bill 385 now moves to the Assembly.

Learn more about SB 385 here.

Read the bill text here.

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: