California has become the first state in the nation to require student health centers on public state university campuses to offer medical abortion, or the “abortion pill,” on-site.
Senate Bill 24 requires all campuses under the University of California or California State University systems to make abortion pills available for students at on-campus student health care centers at all public postsecondary educational institutions by January 1, 2023.
“As other states and the federal government go backward, restricting reproductive freedom, in California we are moving forward, expanding access and reaffirming a woman’s right [to] choose,” said Governor Gavin Newsom in a statement. “We’re removing barriers to reproductive health – increasing access on college campuses and using technology to modernize how patients interact with providers.”
The abortion pill (RU 486) is used in about one-quarter of all abortions in the US before eight weeks' gestation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is different than the "morning-after pill" and requires two different medicines to end a pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol. The first blocks the hormone progesterone and stops the pregnancy from further developing. Misoprostol then causes cramping or bleeding that empties the uterus similar to an early miscarriage, says Planned Parenthood. Most abortions by medication can take between 5 and 24 hours and are more than 90 percent effective.
Each university will be provided state-allocated funds to provide pills so that university students can seek medical advice, counseling, and procedures on-campus and in a timely manner.
“By ensuring that abortion care is available on campus, college students will not have to choose between delaying important medical care or needing to travel long distances or even missing classes or work,” said State Senator Connie Leyva, who introduced the bill.
It comes on the heels of state-led initiatives aiming to advance and make accessible reproductive healthcare services. This year’s budget included a record $100 million in reproductive health that, when matched with federal funding, will provide hundreds of millions to Planned Parenthood and other women’s health providers. Another bill, AB 1264, was also signed into law today that allows for birth control to be prescribed via teleconference without a video chat so that women can receive their birth control through expanded access across the state.
When women have uninhibited access to reproductive healthcare, studies show socioeconomic benefits trickle through society.
“Women’s economic contributions often depend on having access to comprehensive reproductive health services, as well as to education, jobs with livable wages, and workplace supports,” concluded a report by the Center for American Progress.
Women who are denied an abortion are more likely to experience “economic hardship and insecurity lasting years,” according to a 2018 study published by the American Public Health Association. Those impacts aren’t limited to just hormonal treatments, either. Providing sanitary products and clean infrastructure to menstruating women increases those who receive an education and enter the workforce.