Abortion Pills Access to Be Required on California Public University Campuses

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Prescriptions for the abortion pills: mifepristone and misoprostol.
Source: CBS/AP, “Taking Abortion Pills at Home as Safe as in a Clinic, Study Finds,” cbsnews.com, May 17, 2018

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 24 on Oct. 11, 2019. Under the new law, the University of California (UC) and California State University systems, which encompass 737,328 students, will be required to provide access to medical abortion pills on all campuses beginning in Jan. 2023.

Abortion pills are a nonsurgical method of terminating a pregnancy within the first ten weeks by inducing a miscarriage. The first pill, mifepristone, is taken at a clinic or at home, and the second, misoprostol, is taken at home between 6 and 72 hours later. Patients are advised to follow up with their doctors 5 to 14 days after taking the medications.

According to a 2017 study of 1,000 women who used abortion pills, no deaths occurred and 87 women sought medical advice for symptoms. The study concluded, “Self sourced medical abortion using online telemedicine can be highly effective, and outcomes compare favourably with in clinic protocols. Reported rates of adverse events are low. Women are able to self identify the symptoms of potentially serious complications, and most report seeking medical attention when advised. Results have important implications for women worldwide living in areas where access to abortion is restricted.”

Researchers from UC schools estimated that between 322 and 519 students at the 34 California public universities seek medication abortions each month. The students often have to drive more than 30 minutes to a clinic and pay $604 on average for the pills. The new program will use $10.3 million from private donors to offer the pills at university health centers.

Newsom stated, “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. We’re removing barriers to reproductive health — increasing access on college campuses and using technology to modernize how patients interact with providers.”

In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill with the veto message: “Access to reproductive health services, including abortion, is a long-protected right in California. According to a study sponsored by supporters of this legislation, the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance. Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary.”

Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life America, stated, “Student fees underwrite the costs of the healthcare centers on campuses, which will now be required to distribute deadly chemical abortion pills. And healthcare professionals will also be forced to hand them out no matter the consequences to women’s health, but Students for Life of America will make sure to connect these victims of conscience right violations with legal help to stop the spread of a bad idea that is only good for propping up abortion vendors like Planned Parenthood.”

Explore the 2020 presidential candidates’ positions on abortion on ProCon.org’s 2020 Election site.


Discussion Questions – Things to Think About
1. Should abortion pills be available on college campuses? Explain your answer.

2. Should abortion be legal? Why or why not?

3. Would you vote for a presidential candidate who holds an opposing position on abortion? Why or why not?


Abigail R. A. Aiken, Irena Digol, James Trussell, and Rebecca Gomperts, “Self Reported Outcomes and Adverse Events after Medical Abortion through Online Telemedicine: Population Based Study in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland,” bmj.com, 2017

California Legislative Information, “SB-320 Public University Student Health Centers: Medication Abortion Readiness: Abortion by Medication Techniques: College Student Health Center Sexual and Reproductive Health Preparation Fund. (2017-2018),” leginfo.legislature.ca.gov (accessed Oct. 14, 2019)

Melody Gutierrez, “Abortion Medication to Be Available at California’s College Health Centers under New Law,” latimes.com, Oct. 11, 2019

Brooke Seipel, “California Becomes the First State in US Requiring Public Universities to Offer Abortion Pill on Campus,” thehill.com, Oct. 11, 2019

Ushma D. Upadhyay, Alice F. Cartwright, and Nicole E. Johns, “Access to Medication Abortion among California’s Public University Students,” jahonline.org, Aug. 2018

Danielle Wallace, “Pro-Life Group Promises Legal Aid to Those Hurt by California’s College ‘Abortion Pill’ Law,” foxnews.com, Oct. 12, 2019