Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New CAP Brief Calls on States to Improve Abortion Access by Expanding Those Who Provide Abortion Care
Press Release

RELEASE: New CAP Brief Calls on States to Improve Abortion Access by Expanding Those Who Provide Abortion Care

Press Contacts

  • Chelsea Kiene

Washington, D.C. — In the past four years, states have enacted 231 restrictions on abortion care, which severely limit women’s access to this legal and safe procedure. Under the cloak of protecting women’s health, state legislatures, particularly in the South and Midwest, have been actively introducing and passing bills that are neither evidence-based nor backed by science, leading to a decrease in the number of abortion providers and locations where abortions care is available. To combat these restrictions and ensure that more women have access to abortion care, the Center for American Progress released a new issue brief today calling on states to increase access to abortions by allowing advance-practice clinicians, or APCs, to provide care.

Abortion is a common procedure—one out of three women will have an abortion in her lifetime—yet women experience delays in accessing abortions due to reductions in the number of providers and clinics offering abortion care. However, states have increasingly begun introducing legislation that protects access to abortion care and, in some cases, expands access. For example, in 2002, California passed a law to allow APCs—including nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician’s assistants—to provide medication abortions. In 2013, the legislature passed a law to allow these health care professionals to also provide aspiration abortions in the first trimester.

“California has been a leader in protecting and expanding access to abortion care, helping to ensure that more women can access this common, safe medical procedure. Other states should follow California’s lead by adopting measures that allow more clinicians to provide abortion care,” said Donna Barry, Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at CAP and lead author of the report. ”Advance practice clinicians deliver excellent, quality health care and are often primary care providers for women. By adding abortion care to their practices, clinicians could greatly expand services for women.”

Beyond abortion services, some policymakers have suggested that expanding APCs’ scope of practice could help fill the shortage of primary care providers in rural America. Yet, other than California, APCs only provide aspiration abortions in four states: Oregon, Montana, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

As outlined in CAP’s issue brief, several states could potentially pass legislation expanding scopes of practice so that APCs could provide aspiration abortions in the first trimester. Based on current legislature and gubernatorial composition, as well as the regulatory environment regarding medical abortion of each state, these states include: Alaska, Hawaii, Washington state, New Mexico, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Additionally, there are eight states—Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Maine—that have full practice authority for nurse practitioners but currently have laws that only allow physicians to provide medication and aspiration abortions. These states could increase the number of abortion providers through legislation or administrative policy changes that allow APCs to provide abortion care.

Read the issue briefImproving Abortion Access by Expanding Those Who Provide Care by Donna Barry and Julia Rugg

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at ckiene@americanprogress.org or 202.478.5328.

###