Bill requiring California public universities to provide ‘abortion pill’ passes in state Assembly

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Update 6/12/2019: This article has been updated to include information from an email by ConwayStrategic program manager Alexa Garcia-Ditta.

SB 24, or the College Student Right to Access Act, was passed by the California State Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday and will guarantee that all California public university students have access to medication abortion through university health centers by January 2023, according to the bill.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, and will ensure that the reproductive health services — such as contraception and pregnancy option counseling — already offered by many public universities in California will include services for students who seek to end their pregnancies during the first 10 weeks through medical abortion, according to a press release issued by Leyva’s office.

Medication abortion, sometimes called “the abortion pill,” is a noninvasive, nonsurgical process that blocks hormones needed for pregnancy, according to the press release.

Recent efforts across our country make it absolutely clear that women’s rights, particularly access to abortion, are under attack,” Leyva said in the press release. “While other states are taking a giant step back to the days of outright misogyny and forced pregnancy, California continues to lead the nation by reaffirming the constitutional right to access abortion care without delay, including at student health centers on public university campuses.

According to UC Office of the President spokesperson Sarah McBride, the UC believes students should have “access to affordable and convenient reproductive health care of their choosing.” McBride added that the UC will continue to work with policymakers to reach this goal and, in the meantime, will continue to provide students with access to reproductive health services, including referrals to nearby abortion service facilities.

“Those who have voiced their support for the bill in Senate hearings over the last couple months have said that the bill is about upholding a woman’s constitutional right,” said campus alumna and previous co-president of Berkeley Students for Life Tamika Bassman. “We just think it’s reasonable for this bill to be about upholding all constitutional rights.”

Daniel Frise, a campus junior and the current co-president of Berkeley Students for Life, said the bill will violate students’ religious rights and that students with religious convictions would not want their student fees to be spent toward abortion.

According to the state Legislature’s website, the bill does not require public California universities to utilize general-fund money or student fees to prepare for or provide medication abortion before the bill goes into effect.

The bill includes an agreement to create a fund administered by the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls to provide privately funded grants to each California public university student health center, which will help cover the costs of necessary training, equipment or infrastructure updates. The bill will also permit campuses to form memorandums of understanding with “off-campus providers” to provide effective abortion services.

All Californians — including college students — should have access to the full range of choices for reproductive health care services so that they can plan their futures and achieve their personal and professional goals,” Leyva said in the press release.

Emily Hom is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hom_emily.