The fate of a bill intended to expand access to abortion in California looks brighter. The bill, which would enable more medical professionals to perform early abortions has been on a roller coaster ride of big intentions and political roadblocks. But at last it appears to be heading into law, although in a much less potent form.
Via the Associated Press:
A bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown would extend a pilot program allowing non-doctors to perform abortions in California.
The Senate approved SB623 on a 22-16 vote Thursday. It extends until Jan. 1, 2014, a program that lets nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants provide aspiration abortions.
The bill, which was submitted by Senator Christine Kehoe was introduced months earlier but was first gutted. Even with changes, it became stuck in committee. Kehoe’s newly passed bill would continue the training program already in place and allow a smaller number of nurse-midwives and PAs to perform aspiration abortions. Without the extension, the study would end at the end of the month, and those newly-trained professionals would have to cease providing terminations.
Even this circumscribed version caused controversy in the chamber, however: One Assemblywoman venting her frustration with male legislators in general over their attempts to politically control women.
[Assemblywoman Norma] Torres said that for a hundred years, perhaps 200 years, “women have been under attack – attack of the ignorant, attack of our male counterparts that cannot understand our bodies.”
House Majority Floor Leader Charles Calderon, also a Democrat, rose on the Assembly floor to say that history can be discussed at another time but that Torres should “stick to the issues presented in the bill.”
“The history of women’s suffrage is very appropriate to this bill, and I take offense at any man who dares to stand up and shut me down,” Torres responded. “As a woman, I refuse to be shut down.”
Calderon countered that Assembly rules apply to all members.
“As a woman, I will not be shut down,” Torres replied.
“Women continue to be oppressed by the ignorance that our bodies can simply get rid of something a male has inserted inside of us that we did not want, forcibly.”
Torres then took a verbal slap at colleagues who seemed shocked by the exchange and by her angry comments.
“Don’t ‘Aw,”" she said. “Don’t ‘aw’ at my comments. Really? You’re shocked? I’m shocked that we’re having this discussion on the floor. And as a woman, I’m offended by the discussion on the floor.”
Republican Assemblyman Curt Hagman, a floor leader for the GOP caucus, grabbed his microphone to say that rules apply to all speakers and that SB 623 has nothing to do with whether women have a legal right to abortion.
“Please stick to the merits of the case,” he said.
Torres defied him, too.
“I refuse as a women to be shut down by you or any other man in this Assembly,” she said.
SB 623 is expected to be signed into law by the governor.