California Democrats again are trying to mandate the abortion pill be stocked in campus clinics across the Golden State’s university system, and this time they’ve got a friend in the governor’s office.
The California State Senate Health Committee approved in a 7-3 vote Wednesday the “College Student Right to Access Act,” or Senate Bill 24. It would amend the state’s public health code to force student health care services clinics at California State University and University of California campuses to “offer abortion by medication techniques,” starting in 2023. The bill is set for smooth going in the Democrat-controlled California legislature.
Virtually the same bill was vetoed in October by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. But proponents have a new reason for optimism.
“There’s a new governor,” said Kristi Hamrick, spokeswoman for Students for Life, who is advocating against the bill. “And that’s a big change.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom told the San Francisco Chronicle last fall that he “would have supported that [bill]” and subscribes to “Planned Parenthood and NARAL’s position on that.”
The bill would take effect only after $10.2 million in private funds is raised for the costs of equipment and training in clinics, the legislation states. A spokesperson for a consortium of private health organizations said the funds already have been raised.
Under California law, abortion care is required to be covered by health insurance policies.
Proponents say the bill would remove red tape for college students seeking a full slate of reproductive health options. Currently, campus health clinics carry dozens of varieties of birth control medication, but not the “abortion pill.”
“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,” state Sen. Connie Leyva, the bill’s chief sponsor, said in a written statement.
But opponents of the legislation see the bill as a vehicle for turning college campuses into what they call “abortion vendors.” Student fees and taxpayers, they say, would inevitably cover some cost of the pill, including consultant fees. They also cite health concerns about the medication.
“Women have died from taking these drugs,” Ms. Hamrick told The Washington Times.
The organization Students for Life has shared testimony from a San Francisco father whose daughter died of septic shock due to bleeding in her uterus caused by a drug-induced abortion.
Bill sponsors say chemical abortions are safe, with severe complications fewer than one-half-of-one-percent of instances. In 2011, one in four women seeking abortions used oral medication.
The regimen involves two treatments of pills, days apart, to terminate pregnancies up to nine weeks. According to a Mayo Clinic website, the ingested medication is not without complications, such as infection, fever or even an incomplete abortion. Consultation with a doctor is recommended.
One state, Texas, requires a doctor’s consultation 24 hours in advance of administering the pill. California would be the first state to mandate coverage at college campuses.
Last year, colleges in California did not support SB 320, noting added costs and that their clinics are not full health care facilities.
“The California State University’s position on SB 24 is still pending,” said Toni Molle, a spokeswoman for the CSU chancellor’s office. “We are working with the bill’s author.” Mr. Brown vetoed the legislation in October, citing already easy access to abortion.
“Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary,” Mr. Brown said in announcing his veto.
A spokesman for Ms. Leyva said the bill will need to pass through both the senate’s education and appropriations committees before emerging for a full vote in that body.