A recent nursing school graduate from California was “shocked, horrified, and disgusted” when she applied to take the national licensing exam for registered nurses (NCLEX) and learned that her home state will expedite the application of any healthcare professional willing to assist with or perform abortions.
Kara* shared in an email to Live Action News:
When you finish the Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), you then sign up with the California Board of Registered Nurses (BRN) to take the test to get your license (the NCLEX). I was horrified when applying for the exam…There’s one way to expedite the process… one procedure that if you’re willing to do it and have paperwork about your intentions, the BRN will get you through faster… if you are willing to perform abortions. There were NO OTHER PROCEDURES they asked about to expedite your license. Not births, not hospice, not cancer treatment. . . just abortions.”
Kara, whose first career was in teaching, enrolled in nursing school with a desire to help others, not harm them. She considered pursuing nursing for some time, but initially thought, “It would take so much school, and I’m still teaching. I don’t have enough time.” Over a period of several years, she was privileged to be at the bedside of four different family members or friends — including three who had cancer — as they died. Witnessing those sacred moments at the end of each person’s life reinforced her belief that all life is precious, and acknowledging her own desire to care for others at their most vulnerable was the final nudge she needed to apply for nursing school.
Since graduating with her Associate’s Degree in December, she is now enrolled in a Bachelor’s Degree program and is applying for jobs. In California, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is required for employment, but nurses with an associate’s degree can get a job and start working as long as they’re actively enrolled in a baccalaureate program.
Expediting license applications for abortion workers is one aspect of California’s expansion of abortion
In September of 2022, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 657 into law, mandating the BRN to expedite applications for healthcare workers providing abortions, in direct response to both the June Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Texas’ passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act. Newsom simultaneously signed a slew of other abortion expansion measures, including a bill intended to increase the amount of abortion providers by training midwives and nurse practitioners to perform first-trimester suction aspiration (also known as suction D&C) abortions. At the same time, he also passed a “shield law,” which welcomes healthcare providers who lost their license in other states due to flouting those states’ laws restricting or prohibiting abortion.
Illinois recently passed its own version of a shield law, and New York’s governor introduced similar legislation in early January. As noted by Ms. Magazine, “[New York’s] proposed law would shield clinicians and pharmacists throughout the state from criminal prosecution, extradition, loss of license or malpractice insurance, and from subpoenas of their medical records for prescribing and sending abortion pills to people who need them anywhere in the United States.”
In other words, there will be no accountability or professional penalties for flouting other states’ laws by mailing abortion pills to states where they are illegal, or otherwise assisting with or performing abortions illegally.
By way of AB 657 and its other new laws, California is encouraging and rewarding healthcare providers who break the law in other states.
In any legitimate area of medicine, this government-sanctioned acceptance and even encouragement of malpractice would be unthinkable. Sadly, women who seek abortions in California stand to suffer the most at the hands of unscrupulous healthcare practitioners who fled other states because they believed the law didn’t apply to them. The passage of AB 657 was supported by the state’s Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), as indicated here.
Nurses aren’t the only ones whose licenses will be expedited for participating in abortions
Nursing school graduates or nurses from other states seeking to take advantage of California’s expedited licensure application process are required to submit “a letter demonstrating and declaring their intention to perform abortions, a letter from an employer or health care entity indicating the applicant has accepted employment or entered a contract to provide abortions, the applicant’s starting date, the location where the applicant will provide abortions, and that the applicant is providing abortions within the scope of their license.” But AB 657 doesn’t just impact nurses.
The new law further applies to advanced practice nurses (APNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs), who are similarly licensed by the BRN, plus the Medical Board of California, which licenses medical doctors (MDs) as well as surgeons and midwives, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, which licenses doctors of osteopathy (DOs), and finally the Physician Assistant (PA) Board.
California prioritizes abortion amidst massive nursing shortage
California’s blatant preferential treatment of abortion is particularly egregious considering the massive nursing shortage the state faces. While it is the most populous state in the country, California ranks 38th in terms of nurse-to-population ratio, with just 8.2 nurses per population of 1,000. In contrast, Washington, D.C., which ranks first, and South Dakota, which ranks second, have 16.74 and 15.95 nurses per population of 1,000, respectively.
In 2021, a report from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Workforce Research Center estimated that California was operating with 40,567 fewer nurses than necessary. In addition, 2021 data released by the California Health and Human Services Agency found that 58 of the 72 studied geographical areas were operating with a nursing shortage, which was characterized as ‘high’ in 19 areas.
The nursing shortage impacts everyone, from ambulatory surgical center patients needing knee or hip replacements to medical-surgical patients recovering from pneumonia, from critically ill patients in intensive care units (ICUs) to cancer patients, from women giving birth on Labor & Delivery units to patients recovering from open heart surgery. Instead of prioritizing the safety of these patients, California has chosen to focus its attention and resources on abortion, which is the purposeful killing of innocent preborn humans, and therefore can never constitute health care.
Nurses are taught to ‘do no harm’
Kara noted that the nursing code of ethics, as set out by the American Nurses Association, requires nurses to abide by four core principles — including nonmaleficence, better known as “do no harm.” She asserted, “Abortion can never be healthcare because in healthcare and as nurses we take an oath to do no harm.” She opined, “Abortion is so contradictory to everything we learn in nursing school,” and insisted that instead of sacrificing the preborn, society and the healthcare system “have to love them both.”
*Name changed due to concern of retaliation
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