Last week the state Senate Health Committee approved SB 24, a bill requiring that the student health centers at every CSU and UC provide medication abortion drugs to students. The bill now goes to more committees in the Senate, before heading to the Assembly. Its success demonstrates how abortion ideology is running roughshod over common sense in Sacramento.
Let’s define terms, and explain exactly what this bill would do. “Medication abortion” is a series of two drugs taken over two days, at 8-10 weeks of pregnancy, to induce an artificial miscarriage. At 10 weeks, a fetus has arms, legs, fingers, toes, eyes, sex characteristics, a heartbeat, and a working brain — distinguishably a living, human organism.
The medications are ingested in a clinical setting under the supervision of medical personnel. However, the actual expelling of the fetus and its attendant complications generally occurs at home or — as supporters of this bill seem to think appropriate — in a college dormitory bathroom of questionable sanitation.
The side effects of medical abortion can be serious: extreme pain, cramping, bleeding, passing massive blood clots, fever, infection, and more. The FDA reported that 22 women have died from medication abortion so far, 4,000 women have had seriously adverse events, more than 1,000 have been hospitalized, and 598 required a transfusion due to severe blood loss.
SB 24 requires that these drugs be available at every CSU and UC student health center, but this is not all it mandates. It creates a telemedicine service allowing students to obtain a prescription for abortion via their smartphones. It necessitates that student health centers obtain the apparatus required for providing this medication, including purchasing and installing ultrasound machines, which student health centers currently lack.
They lack ultrasound machines because full prenatal health care is beyond the scope of what a university health center is supposed to do. They are intended to provide certain basic forms of care (all with low liability risks), and to get a student to another healthcare provider for serious medical interventions.
Because it is beyond their health centers’ mission, both the CSU and UC systems have refused to support SB 24. Yet our legislators seem to think they know better.
While supporters claim this bill will not use taxpayer revenue or student tuition, it explicitly declined to add language closing off that possibility, and the program is only funded privately for a few years with no subsequent provision. Student tuition fees and taxpayer revenue also already pay for the overhead at student health centers — supporters of the bill seem to live in a fairytale where those costs are separate from the cost of abortion. The increased liability universities will face for providing abortion will, doubtless, also be borne by taxpayers and students.
The bill also allows federal tax dollars to fund this program, anticipating and hoping for a change in federal policy should a pro-choice candidate win the White House in 2020. Meanwhile, Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion by a 54% to 39% margin.
By vetoing this legislation last September, Gov. Jerry Brown was far more grounded in reality than today’s pro-choice supermajorities in the Legislature. Even someone as committed to abortion rights as Brown recognized that California public universities have no obligation to furnish their students with walking-distance, government-furnished access to abortion, or to remove every conceivable hindrance to its access.
The bill was an interesting test for South Valley Sen. Melissa Hurtado, who sits on the Health Committee. While her party supports the bill, she represents a relatively conservative district that was held by Republicans for years, and whose Democrat voters are largely Latinos with relatively conservative viewpoints on abortion. In spite of a wave of opposing phone calls from her constituents, she voted in favor of the bill, thereby indicating a position on abortion more extreme than Jerry Brown’s.
Hurtado has distinguished herself in her first months in the Legislature by advocating for lower income communities through positive healthcare proposals, and won her race by promoting herself as a fiscal conservative. Yet this bill’s success shows how powerful the pro-choice lobby is, and how there is no room in Sacramento for anything short of abortion extremism.
John V. Gerardi is executive director of Right to Life of Central California. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.