California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Friday, Oct. 11, requiring public universities to offer abortion medication at campus health centers.
California became the first state in the U.S. to approve this law, which will take effect in 2023 and only applies to the 34 campuses in the University of California and California State University systems.
“As other states and the federal government go backward, restricting reproductive freedom, in California we are moving forward, expanding access and reaffirming a woman’s right choose,” Newsom said in a statement. “We’re removing barriers to reproductive health—increasing access on college campuses and using technology to modernize how patients interact with providers.”
California’s bill would allocate $200,000 to each University of California and California State University student health center “to pay for the cost, both direct and indirect, of medication abortion readiness.”
But the law will only be implemented if a state commission can raise more than $10 million in private donations to pay for it.
Planned Parenthood celebrated the new law on Twitter.
BREAKING: @GavinNewsom just signed historic reproductive freedom bills into LAW: AB 1264 & SB 24! These bills, & SB 464, will EXPAND (not ban) access to birth control, abortion, & maternal health care. Thank you @AsmCottie @SenatorLeyva and @HollyJMitchell for your leadership! pic.twitter.com/3kAANoLYgD
— Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (@PPActionCA) October 11, 2019
University of California spokeswoman Sarah McBride said the university “believes students should have access to affordable and convenient reproductive health care of their choosing.”
“The university is currently evaluating next steps and will implement the law accordingly,” she told New York Post.
Meanwhile, religious and conservative groups objected to the legislation.
“We oppose any effort to make it easier to abort a baby before he or she is born,” Rudra Reddy, external vice president for the Berkeley College Republicans, told The Sacramento Bee. “Newsom is opposed to the moratorium on the death penalty in California but he’s perfectly fine executing unborn children.”
“Governor Newsom’s reckless support for a new abortion pill distribution scheme on California college and university campuses will put students’ lives at risk and put schools at risk of lawsuits as conscience rights are violated,” Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said in a statement. “The Pro-Life Generation will not sit back and watch their college and university campuses be turned into Planned Parenthood’s new money-making machine,” according to Fox News.
Live Action President Lila Rose said the law “turns universities into abortion centers.” And Maria Jose Fernandez, legislative advocate for the California Catholic Conference, said the law is “trying to limit the alternatives for women.”
“We’re giving them the option to terminate a life, but what about those who want to continue on with that pregnancy? Where is the help for those women?” Fernandez said.
Throughout committee hearings, the Republicans voted against the bill. A couple of Democrats in the Assembly abstained during the floor debates.
The Department of Finance, under Newsom’s office, also opposed the bill, citing a lack of resources, personnel expertise, and private funds to support a program of such “size, scope or content.”