On June 24, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark law that made abortion access a federal right in the United States for half a century.
With the right to a safe and accessible abortion now left to the states, California is taking steps to assure residents that the disappearance of Roe v. Wade will not affect or limit their right to abortion.
Under state law, many students can already exercise their reproductive rights on campus. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 24 (SB 24), which requires CSU and UC campuses to offer nonsurgical medical abortions, also known as “abortion pills,” to college students. by January 2023.
The US Supreme Court decision will not affect this requirement. Because abortion is criminalized in some states, SB 24 is one of the first pieces of legislation in the nation to give students safe access to abortion pills.
“This bill then makes medical abortion available to all students at public universities,” said Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. “It also provides one-time funding to CSU campuses to prepare to offer medical abortions.”
Medications will be provided by mail and at the Fresno State Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC).
“The two drugs used for medical abortions are Mifeprex (Mifepristone or RU-486) and Misoprostol. Additionally, there will likely be a few other medications dispensed for pain [and] cramps and nausea,” said Lauren Nickerson, associate vice president of university communications.
Each of California’s 23 campuses will receive $200,000 to fund this new service. Fresno State also plans to purchase new equipment, according to Director of Medical Services Dr. Robert Mitchell.
“Until now, we had never had a hemoglobinometer. Now we’re going to have to have one there,” he said.
Fresno State health providers have been preparing to offer this service to students since March and ongoing training is still ongoing, Mitchell said. Nurse practitioner Sandra Loehner, who has previous experience in women’s reproductive health, will be one of the staff who will administer this new medical service and has provided training to other staff, said Mitchell said.
Fresno State students who visit the health center to receive an abortion pill will also receive educational materials to guide them through the procedure.
“We are creating new material where there will be visual instructions on where to put the pill in their mouth, and [it] will also include a visual representation of bleeding and what is considered normal versus not normal after this procedure,” Mitchell said.
He also stressed that the mental health team would be available to support students every step of the way. Mitchell said when it comes to the safety of taking the pill, students need to feel confident and secure. He said the drug had already been used in Europe for years and there was only a 1% failure rate.
“If 23 campuses are on board to offer this service, then it’s proven to be very safe and the complication rates are very, very low,” Mitchell said. “This initiative is really about the College Student Right of Access Act, which was undertaken for patient safety, and that’s what we’re here to do, to keep our students safe.”
Ruby Pereida, a junior from Fresno State majoring in sociology, said she was unaware of the readiness of SB 24 and Fresno State to offer abortion services, but did highlighted the importance of students having access on campus.
“Students do not always have means of transport to go and have an abortion. Even when it comes to abortion by mail, students don’t always have a stable mailing address,” Pereida said. “Being able to get it on campus is a very good thing.”
Student fees vary by insurance. As with all drugs on campus, there is a cost, according to Mitchell.
“We anticipate that mifepristone will cost around $50. Misoprostol should cost around $10. Medical providers can also identify other medications to dispense as needed,” Nickerson said. “We expect the entire plan to be $100, although the final price has yet to be determined.”
Family PACT, a government assistance program, does not pay for medications or clinician time, so the cost will have to be paid by the student. Pereida expressed concerns about out-of-pocket student fees that could make access to abortion pills inaccessible for some students.
“If it’s an emergency and you don’t have the funds, it shouldn’t cost anything. If so, it should be part of our health bill that we have to pay as part of our school fees,” she said.
Dr. Cindy Schorzman, medical director of UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services, told EdSource that UC Davis established a fund for students facing financial hardship to help cover the cost of pill to ensure access for all students.
At this time, Mitchell said he is not aware of any plans to provide financial aid to help defray costs for students who may not be able to afford the pills. Having chosen to exercise her right to an abortion in the past, Pereida said she now sympathizes with students who find themselves in the same situation.
“You ask yourself, ‘What am I going to do? and ‘How am I going to afford it?’ and ‘What are the steps?’ “said Pereida. “Knowledge [that] my school offers this and i can go there [to the health center] is a good option to have.
Pereida said she still worries about whether or not students will have time after the procedure if they choose to have an abortion.
“They should be able to take time off to grieve alone or with support,” Pereida said.
Other students are more neutral regarding abortion and student access to the pill on campus. Jordyn Jurado, a young liberal studies student, can see the perspectives of those both for and against SB24.
“A life is a life, whether it’s the first day of pregnancy or the 11th week of pregnancy, and you’re still kind of playing God, deciding whether that life should survive or whether it’s gone. ended there,” Jurado said. “It’s sad to see a life end so abruptly when that life has had no say in it.”
On the other hand, Jurado can sympathize with rape victims and those struggling financially, and has emphasized that she is neutral on the subject, being able to support both parties. Like Pereida, Jurado also said she believes students who receive the pill should not have to pay given the already high price of textbooks and other school necessities.
More information on SB 24 will become available as Fresno State continues to prepare, according to Mitchell.
“As we go through the process, we will make information available to the student body,” he said.
Corrected: September 21, 2022
In a previous version of this article, the title incorrectly stated the time when abortion pills would be offered. Fresno State will offer abortion pills in January 2023.