Brown signs bill allowing nurses to prescribe pill

Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a bill during a visit to a Los Angeles Planned Parenthood clinic that allows nurses to dispense birth control, making it easier for women to get contraceptives.

Brown, a Democrat, was joined by women's health advocates who cheered the singing of the bill.

"At a time when some seek to turn back the clock and restrict women's health choices, California is expanding access to birth control and reaffirming every woman's basic Constitutional rights," Brown said.

The bill, authored by Democratic Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, was passed by lawmakers in August. It allows registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives to dispense the pill, patches and rings.

Julie Rabinovitz, head of the California Family Health Council, applauded the governor for working to expand access to contraception for women.

"With his signature, the governor also took action to address provider shortages statewide by allowing RNs to work to the full extent of their scope and training," Rabinovitz said Saturday. "This is especially important in our changing health care landscape."

During debate last month in Sacramento, Democratic Sen. Kevin De Leon said the bill would reduce delays for women because the state is facing a physician shortage.

Republican Sen. Joel Anderson opposed it, saying nurses should have trained to become physicians if they wanted to dispense medications.

Anderson also said the bill would reduce medical standards, recalling a time when "abortions were committed with coat hangers in back alleys."