California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Wednesday legalizing non-physician abortions.
That means a nurse practitioner, midwife, or physician assistant can perform abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy, after completing specific training.
Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups have strongly supported the legislation.
"Governor Brown is making a commitment to Californians to continue working to make abortion services a human right and not a privilege in our state and is also sending a strong message to the rest of the country that attacks on women's health and rights stop in California," Laura Jimenez, executive director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, said.
But opponents say it basically legalizes back-alley abortions for profit.
"This bill is not about helping women, it is specifically designed to trivialize what an abortion is -- and its risks,'' CNN quoted Anissa Smith, spokeswoman for the California ProLife Council.
"Reducing the medical standards for abortion ... defies logic for those who say they care about women," she said.
"The often repeated mantra of those supporting abortions rights is that abortions ought to be safe, legal, and rare," Rev. Gerald Wilkerson, president of the California Catholic Conference, said. "With this change in California's law, abortions are merely legal -- no longer safe and rare."