The California State Legislature has approved a bill that would require its 34 public universities to offer abortion pills to students at on-campus health centers, free of cost.
On Friday, members voted 55-19 to pass the “College Student Right to Access Act,” or SB 24, allowing students to terminate their pregnancies during the first ten weeks through the medication abortion method, The Hill reported.
The bill is now headed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.
“By ensuring that abortion care is available on campus, college students will not have to choose between delaying important medical care or having to travel long distances or miss classes or work,” the bill sponsor Senator Connie M. Leyva said.
“In a time when states across our country are rolling back women’s health care and access to abortion, California continues to lead the nation to protect every individual’s right to choose,” she added.
Last year, a similar bill moved by Leyva was vetoed by California Governor Jerry Brown, who claimed that medication abortion pills were widely available off campuses and that the law was unnecessary.
“Access to reproductive health services, including abortion, is a long protected right in California,” Governor Brown wrote while returning the bill. “According to a study sponsored by the supporters of this legislation, the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance.”
Meanwhile, the California Catholic Conference has questioned the bill. While calling it an “unprecedented and unnecessary legislation”, Andrew Rivas, executive director of the conference urged Governor Newsom to veto the bill.
“This bill will promote only abortion-inducing drugs on college campuses,” Rivas said
“As Catholics, we recognize the sacredness and primacy of human life and we oppose any legislation or attempt to deny the basic human right to life. For these reasons, the California Catholic Conference requests that Governor Newsom veto SB 24.”