A California Senate committee has passed a bill requiring student health clinics on college campuses to provide abortion pills.
Senate Bill 24 would require all public universities in the state to offer medication abortions on site, beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
Former Governor Jerry Brown, a public supporter of abortion, vetoed a similar bill last September, saying it was was “not necessary,” as abortion services are already “widely available” off campus.
The California State Senate Health Committee passed the bill by a 7-2 vote April 3. The bill will be referred to the State Senate’s Education Committee before going before the full Senate for a vote.
The bill would also create a fund to provide a $200,000 grant to each public university student health center to pay for the cost of offering abortion pills, with money coming from nonstate sources such as private sector entities and local and federal government agencies.
The bill would only take effect if $10.2 million in private funds are made available by Jan 1, 2020.
Student health centers at California’s public universities do not provide abortions, but they do offer contraception and provide referrals to abortion facilities. Many of these centers do distribute the “morning-after pill,” which can block fertilization or prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a uterus.
More than 500 women at public universities in California seek a medication abortion every month, according to KQED news.
California’s current governor, Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said before his election that he would have supported the abortion pill mandate, but has not commented on the new version of the bill since he took office.
“Students should not have to travel off campus or miss class or work responsibilities in order to receive care that can easily be provided at a student health center,” said State Sen. Connie Leyva, the bill’s sponsor, in an April 3 statement.
Kathleen Buckley Domingo, senior director of the Office of Life, Justice & Peace for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said last September that she was grateful Brown vetoed the previous version of the bill.
“He recognized that this bill was unnecessary for California and did not empower our college women, but only offered more abortion for our state,” Domingo said.
Instead, Domingo said she hoped the state would pass bills to assist college students who are already parents. Such legislation would “ensure women’s Title IX protections for pregnancy are known and understood, and to make childcare and family housing for student mothers and fathers readily available and accessible for California women.”
Andy Rivas, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, said he was not surprised by the veto and that students “were not pushing for passage” of the bill. Universities “did not want the responsibility of providing abortion pills to students,” he said.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United For Life, said at the time of Brown’s veto that he had “made California safer for women, and college campuses safer for their unborn children.”
“Governor Brown recognized that in a state where Medicaid already pays for elective abortions, there is no issue of access, since, as he said yesterday, ‘the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from 5 to 7 miles, not an unreasonable distance,’” Foster said last September.
Foster also pointed out that “college health clinics are not equipped to handle the very serious risks of chemical abortion drugs,” which can include heavy vaginal bleeding and infection.
Medical abortions involve the taking of two pills - the first pill, mifepristone, blocks progesterone, which is essential for maintaining the health of the fetus. The second pill, misoprostol, is taken 24 hours after mifepristone and works to induce contractions in order to expel the fetus.
Medication abortions make up about one third of all abortions performed in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration reports that 22 deaths have been associated with the use of abortion pills in the US as of the end of 2017.