California state Sen. Connie Leyva (D) on Monday re-introduced a bill to require public universities to offer the abortion pill on campus. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed the measure in September, and advocates hope that a new governor will mean it will be successful this time around.
Should the California legislature pass “College Student Right to Access Act” and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom (D) sign the measure into law, health centers at the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) campuses will offer students medication abortion starting in 2023. Medication abortion safely terminates pregnancies up to 10 weeks when two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, are taken together 24-hours apart.
“Regardless of where they may live, all Californians should have access to the full range and choices of reproductive care services so that they can plan their futures and accomplish their goals,” said Leyva in a statement. “I am confident that the incoming Legislature will also approve SB 24 and that Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom will continue to stand strong in his support for a woman’s right to choose.”
The unprecedented legislation was dreamed up by a group of students who wanted the University of California, Berkeley to provide comprehensive health services. But Brown deemed the measure uncalled for.
“Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary,” said Brown to members of California’s state senate.
“It’s extremely important to women’s health, it’s extremely important to woman’s choice, and for him, a man, to decide what women can do with their bodies was just very disappointing,” Leyva told the Daily Californian about Brown’s veto. “I felt that all women everywhere were disrespected with his veto message.”
Brown’s assessment of Leyva’s bill runs contrary to research conducted by the University of California San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH). Every month, up to 519 students at 34 UC and CSU campuses seek medication abortion at off-site clinics. Meaning, they are likely to seek medication abortion on campus as students currently face plenty of barriers: about half of students are low-income and likely struggle to pay for abortions at off-site campuses that may or may not accept a student health plan; two-thirds of UC students and one-third of CSU students don’t have a car, making traveling to two appointments difficult; and only five (or 15 percent of) abortion providers near UC and CSU campuses are open on weekends.
Unlike Brown, Newsom reportedly liked the idea — at least that’s what he said on the campaign trail.
“I would have supported that. I have long supported that,” said Newsom in October, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I subscribe to Planned Parenthood and NARAL’s position on that.”
ThinkProgress reached out to Newsom’s office to see if he would sign the new bill into law, which is substantively similar to what the legislature passed in August.
“He looks forward to reading it once it’s introduced,” said Nathan Click, spokesman for Newsom’s transition team.