California Legislature Reintroduces Bill to Provide Abortion Pills on Campus

While the last eight years have been filled with numerous bills that attempt to limit access to abortion across the country, every once in a while legislation promises to do the opposite: actually expand the ability to easily terminate a pregnancy.

Last year that happened in California, when legislators introduced a groundbreaking bill that would allow medication abortions at the health centers of public colleges and universities. The bill passed both chambers of the state legislature with overwhelming margins.

Then, California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown decided to veto it.

When it comes to accessing an abortion clinic, California has far more options than most of the states in the nation. The state of California hosts almost a quarter of all of the clinics in the nation — a stark contrast to nearby states like Idaho, Utah or Wyoming, which have just a handful of clinics, combined.

Still, that doesn’t mean that all California residents are able to easily access an abortion if they want to end a pregnancy. Rural areas, especially in northern California, are far less likely to have abundant clinics. And for students, obtaining care is especially hard as they need to leave their local campus and travel somewhere else in the city — or even further — while still trying to make it to classes on time.

If was for that reason that the California state Senate originally introduced a bill at the beginning of 2018 to require that student health centers located on public college and university campuses offer medication abortion services on site. The bill took the original proposal that was championed by UC Berkeley’s Students United for Reproductive Justice group and turned it into a legislative fix that would expand beyond Berkeley campuses to care all across the state.

But rather than embrace the will of the state lawmakers and the students who worked so hard to turn this legislation into reality, outgoing Governor Jerry Brown made vetoing the bill one of his final moves while in office.

“Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary,” Brown said in his veto statement, adding that  that “[T]he average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance.”

Of course, now Brown is out of a job, and newly elected Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is in place instead. For advocates of abortion rights, that means it’s time to take a second swing at getting medication abortion onto college campuses.

Democratic California state Sen. Connie Leyva, who originally championed the last bill, reintroduced it again. She believes the “College Student Right to Access Act” will again sail through both chambers, and this time be met with a signature once it hits the new governor’s desk.

In a press statement, Senator Leyva said:

At this critical moment for abortion care in our country, California must offer a vision for what it means to truly ensure that everyone can make reproductive health decisions based on what’s best for their unique circumstances, and that includes students.

I am proud to have widespread support as we reintroduce the College Student Right to Access Act this week. This bill will ensure that once a student has decided to end a pregnancy, they will not be forced to go off campus and face barriers such as additional cost, traveling long distances, or even missing class or work to get the care they need.

Newsom already signaled his support for the new plan. “I would have supported that. I have long supported that,” he said shortly after Governor Brown announced his veto of the bill. “I subscribe to Planned Parenthood and NARAL’s position on that.”

Should all go as scheduled, medication abortion could be offered on campuses as soon as 2023. And, hopefully, once California leads the way, other states will follow their path as well.

Photo credit: Robin Marty/Flickr


Amparo Fabiana C
Amparo Fabiana C20 days ago

The world is over populated, all children must be planned and desired.

Louise R
Past Member 21 days ago

thank you for this

Jan K
Jan K26 days ago

thank you

Leo C
Leo C26 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

Ann B
Ann B29 days ago

it is a woman's body and SHOULD be HER decision

Leo C
Leo C29 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

pam w
pam w29 days ago

Oh, and, your last sentence...haven't you ever noticed how supremely NASTY and UNFRIENDLY some self-described "Christians" can be?

pam w
pam w29 days ago

Freya, my friend...sorry I'm out of green stars at the moment because, otherwise...I'd give you a dozen for those comments below. How many people would live in an ''abstinence only'' marriage? Do these nasty people (below) not realize that CONTRACEPTIVES CAN (AND DO) FAIL? It's all about punishing women, isn't it? BULLYING US. Religious prejudices toward us aren't buried very deeply, are they?

Freya H
Freya Habout a month ago

"Plan B" pills are a lot cheaper to taxpayers than welfare and food stamps.

To the mouth-breathers that belch "Just don't have sex!" I respond, easy for you to say when you are totally clueless about what it's like to be human. Any dung-for-brains can bray "Abstinence! Abstinence!" but we need to face the reality of raging hormones and instincts that go back hundreds of millions of years and generations.

RK R should be ashamed of writing such a hateful statement. No wonder he doesn't have any Care2 friends.

danii p
danii pabout a month ago