Key Senate panel OKs Holly Mitchell bill to let clinic RNs dispense birth control

July 02, 2012

Leading the charge to reverse recent nationwide efforts to cut back women's reproductive rights, AB 2348 sails through Assembly, overcomes key Senate Committee opposition

SACRAMENTO-Having passed the Assembly by a vote of 44 to 28 with nine abstentions, AB 2348, which allows registered nurses to dispense birth control in clinics following standardized procedures, survived a key July 2 Senate committee vote despite heavy opposition lobbying.

"Conservative activists decided to target women's reproductive rights as an easy 'take down' this year," said Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell (D-Culver City), the bill's author and chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Services. "We have to make it clear that the pill isn't going back in the bottle -- and women aren't going backward, period, no matter who the Right enlists as allies."

The bill passed the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on a 6:2 vote.

Although endorsed by the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals and a wide range of reproductive advocacy groups, as well as such women's organizations as Oakland's ACCESS Women's Health Justice, Latinas for Reproductive Justice and the National Council of Jewish Women, the bill's chief opponents are nurses' unions whose members' scope of practice already includes dispensation of birth control.

"Access to birth control is the wrong issue to turn into a turf war," Mitchell added. "Not when so many families face high unemployment, low benefits and an urgent need for family planning."

"The bitter irony here is that those who have least access to regular physician care and will therefore most benefit from access to birth control dispensed by RNs are often poor women and women of color," Mitchell noted. "Who should better understand their need than nurses? Yet a faction within that profession has joined with conservative legislators to limit rather than expand their health care options. It's a shame!" The bill next faces a vote on the Senate floor.

Contact: Charles Stewart, (310) 482-1070, (310) 251-4567 cell