SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Senate Bill 24, a proposed law to require student health centers at each of the 34 University of California and California State University campuses to dispense chemical abortion pills, passed an assembly floor vote on Sept. 13 and could be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom . Every Republican assemblymember and one Democrat voted against the abortion expansion.
Last year, when then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed S.B. 320, a similar bill, Newsom said he would have signed it. “I would have supported that. I have long supported that,” he said. “I subscribe to Planned Parenthood and NARAL’s position on that.”
The California Catholic Conference released a statement urging Gov. Newsom, who has described himself as a practicing Catholic with a strong faith, to veto the “unprecedented and unnecessary” legislation. “The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights,” said Andrew Rivas, executive director of the California Catholic Conference. “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.”
S.B. 24 would lead to 500 abortions on university campuses each month, according to analysis by the Assembly Committee on Higher Education.
“Clearly, there is no lack of access to abortion here in California, with over 140 abortion businesses here in our state, including locations strategically placed in close proximity to our university campuses,” Wynette Sills, director of Californians for Life, told the Register. “The reason this bill is being passed now is that pro-abortion Democrats control our state government, and this bill is a vehicle by which they can push more and more abortions as an act of defiance to the pro-life momentum building in states all across our nation.”
The chemical abortion regimen is approved by the Food and Drug Administration up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. Usually the mother ingests Mifeprex, the first pill, under medical supervision. Mifeprex counteracts the hormone progesterone and causes the disintegration of the uterine lining. The mother is given misoprostol to take home and ingest around 48 hours later. Misoprostol causes severe cramping and expulsion of the placenta and embryo or fetus.
The bill declares, “Abortion care is a constitutional right and an integral part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.” It goes on to note the number of students “classified as female” and that the “state has an interest in ensuring that every pregnant person in California who wants to have an abortion can obtain access to that care as easily and as early in pregnancy as possible.”
The California Department of Finance opposes the bill, which it says will be far costlier than advertised. It also derides the choice of the bill’s author to make the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls responsible for overseeing the abortion program.
In its analysis, the Department of Finance asserts, “The commission does not have the technical expertise nor existing capacity to develop and administer a program of this size, scope or content.”
The University of California estimates that maintaining the abortion program and 24-hour on-call staff in case of post-abortion emergencies on UC campuses alone would cost between $2.2 million and $3.3 million a year over and above what S.B. 24 budgets for it. Initial implementation would cost between $4.6 million and $7.8 million. The cost for implementation and maintenance at the California State University campuses is unknown.
“A consortium of funders has stepped forward to cover the full preparation costs for implementation on every public university campus in California,” according to justCare, a coalition that exists solely to promote California’s campus abortion bill. “Estimated costs are $10.3 million, which has already been raised. The funders are also prepared to increase the funds if a greater need exists.”
JustCARE did not respond to inquiries regarding the sources of the funding. But in a segment on its website explaining the group’s mission, the logos of several pro-abortion organizations are displayed, including ACLU California and NARAL Pro-Choice California.
“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,” the author of the bill, state Sen. Connie Leyva, said in a press release. “S.B. 24 reaffirms the right of every college student to access abortion. 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.”
A similar bill was introduced this year in Massachusetts to require the 13 Massachusetts state universities to offer chemical abortions.
Leyva has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She also serves as a commissioner of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
In a letter to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the commission’s executive director, Kendra Harris, called the commission “an independent, nonpartisan state agency” and said that it is “pleased” and “proud” to support S.B. 24.
Harris declined to comment on how administering 34 abortion facilities fits with the commission’s mission of education and advocacy. She also declined to comment on the analysis of the Department of Finance that found the commission was neither intended nor equipped to administer a multimillion-dollar program impacting the health of tens of thousands of students.
The commission was founded in 1965 by the California Legislature, which found that, “despite the fact that women apparently have greater equality in California than in many states, they still are not able to contribute to society according to their full potential. With a view to developing recommendations which will enable women to make the maximum contribution to society, the Legislature has created the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.” The commission’s mission statement says that it works to promote equality and justice for all women and girls through education and advocacy.
According to its website, the commission currently has 12 commissioners and four vacancies. In addition to Connie Leyva, four commissioners are politicians with 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood, and a fifth is endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America. The chair is a former employee of Planned Parenthood Action, and two other commissioners are current Planned Parenthood employees.
One commissioner opposed ballot initiatives for parental notification before a minor’s abortion, and another has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to pro-abortion candidates and action funds. Only one commissioner has no obvious connection to the abortion industry.
In her Assembly Appropriations Committee letter, Harris said: “Medication abortion is safe and extremely effective,” and “abortion services, provided on campus, would allow students to seek more robust medical services from a health center they already know and trust.” The letter is co-signed by the commission’s policy director, Stephanie Tseu, who previously worked as a legislative advocate for Planned Parenthood.
The FDA reports thousands of women have suffered adverse effects from the chemical abortion regimen since 2000, with more than 1,000 women hospitalized and hundreds of them requiring transfusions to recover from massive blood loss.
“S.B. 24 is irresponsible legislation that will put women’s lives at risk on our college campuses,” Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher, who voted against it, told the Register. “Chemical abortions are not as simple as prescribing a pill. The potential complications of having untrained persons and inadequate facilities was never addressed or taken seriously by the proponents of this bill. Abortion on demand was their primary goal — at the expense of human life.”
Register correspondent Mary Rose Short writes from Southern California.