Advanced practice clinicians, including certified nurse practitioners, will be permitted to perform first-trimester abortions in Virginia under a new federal court decision.

A state law saying only licensed physicians may legally perform all abortions poses a substantial obstacle to women’s access to first-trimester abortions, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said May 6. The court granted partial summary judgment to abortion providers that challenged the law.

But the state retains an interest in protecting women’s health,...