Capitol Alert

Senate bill requires publicly funded colleges to provide abortion pills to students

State Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, shown taling with Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, in August, plans to introduce a bill requiring public university and community college campuses to provide non-surgical abortion services.
State Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, shown taling with Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, in August, plans to introduce a bill requiring public university and community college campuses to provide non-surgical abortion services. The Associated Press file

As Republicans in Congress move to defund Planned Parenthood, a California state senator is pushing a bill to require student health centers on public university and community college campuses to provide non-surgical abortion services.

Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, is expected Friday to introduce Senate Bill 320, which would specifically require student health centers that operate with state funding to provide students with access to medication to abort a pregnancy. The bill does not address surgical abortion procedures.

Women can typically receive the medication, a two-pill dosage of mifepristone and misoprostol, from a doctor up to 10 weeks after the first day of the last menstrual cycle. The effect is similar to an early miscarriage, according to Planned Parenthood.

“I think that it’s incredibly important because women of all ages, especially young women, need to make sure they have control over their future – that they have a choice of when they want to incorporate a family into their lives,” Leyva said.

Leyva said the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and reduce federal funding for reproductive care heightens the need for additional services on college campuses.

The new health care plan would reduce services for women to avert pregnancies, particularly in areas without other health care clinics or doctors who serve low-income patients, according to a review by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The American Health Care Act would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for providing any type of care to Medcaid patients. The bill also blocks the use of tax credits on insurance policies that cover abortion services, creating further hurdles for women seeking abortions. Existing law already prevents Planned Parenthood from spending federal dollars on abortion services.

In California, the organization would lose $174 million in federal funding if Congress passes the new health plan in current form, said Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

“Obviously the defunding of Planned Parenthood will leave catastrophic holes in access to reproductive health care throughout California,” Kneer said. “It would definitely cut down on availability of medication abortions as they are offered at nearly all of our health centers.”

While many campuses offer pregnancy counseling options, Leyva’s office said they were unaware of any student health centers that offer abortion services.

Toni Molle, a spokeswoman for the California State University Office of the Chancellor, said it was too early for the university system to comment on the bill. A spokeswoman the University of California did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Leyva said she became aware of the issue when student government at the University of California, Berkeley, passed a resolution asking the college to provide medical abortion services on campus last year.

Leyva said she expects some religious groups and pro-life conservative organizations to oppose her bill. The California Catholic Conference, which represents all 12 dioceses in the state, said it needed more time to review the bill before commenting.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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