California campus health centers must require abortion pills

FILE - In this May 21, 2019 file photo, people demonstrate in support of abortion rights on Capitol Hill in Sacramento, California.  Governor Gavin Newsom signed a measure, Friday, October 11, 2019, that will require public colleges and universities to offer abortion medications at campus health centers.

People demonstrate in support of abortion rights at the Sacramento, California Capitol in 2019 as Governor Gavin Newsom (R) signs SB24, which requires public colleges and universities to offer abortion medications in health care facilities from campus.

The latest battles for reproductive rights are raging on college campuses across the country as California becomes the first state to implement measures that will make abortions more accessible to young people.

Starting this week, all public colleges and universities in California must offer medical abortions. Students will be able to obtain a course of two abortion pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) at their campus health centers and then take the medication on their own.

The move to demand greater access to abortions is one way left-leaning states have fought the 2022 Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationthat overturned Roe vs. Wade after almost 50 years.

He Dobbs The ruling did not require states to make substantive changes to their abortion laws, but instead removed protection for abortion at the federal level. As a result, states retain their own authority to regulate abortion in any way they see fit. The fallout has led to mixed responses across the country, with some states going so far as to enshrine the right to abortion in their state constitutions, while others have outlawed the procedure altogether.

both before and after DobbsCalifornia legislators have expressed their commitment to protect a woman’s right to abortion and to create practical regulations designed to increase access to abortion and other health care.

In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 24, the first law of its kind to require public colleges and universities to offer medical abortions through their campus health centers. The law went into effect on January 1, 2023, just as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed its regulations to allow a commonly used abortion medication to be dispensed by mail order and retail pharmacies. It also provided one-time funding of $200,000 per campus in the state’s public university system to cover increased costs.

Using the California bill as a model, Democrats in New York, Massachusetts and Illinois are poised to enact similar policies on campuses in their states.

To counter California’s efforts to make abortion accessible on campus, Golden State Republicans introduced the Protecting Life on College Campuses Act of 2023 on January 12, which would deny all federal funding to any college or university that provides abortions or abortifacient medications to students.

Conservative anti-abortion groups are also fighting expanded access to medical abortions in court. An advocacy group has asked a federal court in Texas to seek a nationwide injunction to prevent the dispensing of mifepristone under updated FDA regulations.

donald trump-U.S. District Judge Appointed Matthew Joseph Kacsmaryk will preside over the group petition. Kacsmaryk, a former conservative activist, has become known for his willingness to grant nationwide injunctions in cases involving hot political issues like immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, and reproductive rights.

If Kacsmaryk were to grant a nationwide injunction, it would likely trigger a flurry of legal filings by those who would see the new FDA regulations on mifepristone upheld.

[image via AP/Rich Pedroncelli]

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