Non-physicians could perform abortions under bill signed by governor

Legislative session concluded Sept. 14

By Valerie Schmalz

The powerful pro-abortion lobby continued to exhibit its clout, as the California Legislature approved, and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed, a bill that would empower physician assistants to perform aspiration abortions and greenlit legislation to expand Medicaid coverage of the abortion pill to 13 weeks.

The legislation was yet another blow, after a state constitutional amendment enshrining abortion was enacted by voters in 2022.

On the pro-life side, an effort to force pregnancy centers out of business by allowing them to be sued for false advertising failed to pass. The California Catholic Conference and other pro-life organizations and supporters lobbied against the bills, noting they supported transparent advertising but said this was a thinly veiled attempt to shut down pregnancy centers. One of the two bill’s background information called pregnancy centers  ‘fake clinics.’

Victories for healthy families, preserving life

Molly Sheahan, California Catholic Conference

“While we expected several abortion expansion bills to pass, the Conference was excited to see some of the bills held back, and while we still didn’t support others, we made progress in diluting their harms,” said Molly Sheahan, associate director for healthy families, California Catholic Conference.

Several bills passed that would support low-income pregnant moms and families with young children. They include expanded health care coverage during and after pregnancy for moms and entering into the state code—and thus making funding more secure–several programs begun administratively that help poor and at-risk moms and families.

The 2022-23 legislative session concluded Sept. 14. Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 14 to sign or veto bills. It takes a two-thirds vote for the legislature to override any vetoes.

Maria Martinez-Mont, left, at 2023 Walk for Life-West Coast InfoFaire (Photo by Dennis Callahan)

“We are happy to see that the bills targeting pregnancy centers did not pass, as this would have impacted many women unfavorably,” said Maria Martinez-Mont, respect life-coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

“However, we are saddened by the continued expansion of ways to exterminate unborn children with our tax dollars. And we are concerned by the expansion of the abortion pill, which poses a great risk for the health of the mother,” said Martinez-Mont, who is also coordinator of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Gabriel Project outreach to pregnant mothers.

During Respect Life Month, the Respect Life Ministry will offer an Oct. 24 webinar on the dangers of chemical abortion. 

CA Legislative scorecard for life issues in 2023

For this year’s California legislative session, here is the score card on life issues.

Passed, on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for signature or veto:


  • SB 385 passed, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, will allow physician’s assistants to perform abortions by aspiration, a surgical procedure, without physician oversight.
  • AB 576, expanding California Medicaid coverage of the abortion pill to 13 weeks.
  • SB 345, removing “unborn child” from the state code, passed.


  • AB 608 would expand comprehensive perinatal services so low-income mothers would be covered throughout pregnancy and for a full year afterward.
  • AB 1015 would require the State Department of Social Services to continue the Diaper and Wipe program, which was administratively created in 2021, making it a legally created service for low-income families with infants and toddlers.
  • AB 1057 would establish within the state code the California Home Visiting Program, which is already in operation as an administrative initiative. It would fund local health departments programs of home visits for pregnant moms and parents with young children who live in communities with greater risks.
  • AB 1203 removed sales tax from breast pumps.
  • AB 1478 would provide comprehensive maternal mental health referrals.
  • SB 848 would provide bereavement leave for miscarriage, still birth or failed adoption.

These harmful two-year bills were not enacted by the legislature, but could return for the second year of the legislative session which begins in January 2024:

  • AB 602, which would allow pregnancy centers to be sued for any false or misleading advertising about any pregnancy-related service.
  • AB 315, which targets pregnancy centers for false advertising about abortion.
  • SB 729 requires group health plans to offer fertility services, including invitro fertilization IVF), which are currently excluded from insurance coverage under plans regulated by the state.
  • AB 598 would require sexual health education and HIV prevention education including resources on abortion.
  • AB 710 would require the State Health Department to conduct a statewide abortion awareness campaign.

Valerie Schmalz is the director of the Office of Human Life & Dignity.