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SACRAMENTO, CA - A bill to allow medical professionals other than doctors to perform an early abortion procedure moved ahead in the state assemblyTuesdayafternoon.

Supporters say allowing nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants to perform abortions in the first trimester would broaden access.

"California typically leads the country as it relates to reproductive health care for women and this is a really important step for access and for quality care," said the bill's sponsor, Assembly Majority Speaker Toni Atkins.

Opponents are raising concern over patient safety.

"If there is a complication, and you're just going to a little clinic with no supervising doctor, I have real concerns when those people are only trained for 8 weeks in this proceedure," said Assem. Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

A recent study at the University of California San Francisco found low rates of mostly minor complications for nurse practitioners in a pilot study, although their rates were higher than for doctors who have been performing the procedure for many years.

The bill is now moving on to the Assembly health committee.