The passage of the College Student Right to Access Act on Oct. 11, 2019 will make abortion services accessible to students on campus, expanding the reach of these services to more communities. Illustration by Ryan Tran

California became the first state in the nation to require its public universities to provide on-campus medication abortion services on Jan. 1.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 24 on Oct. 11, 2019. Also known as the College Student Right to Access Act, the law mandates all California State University and UC campus health centers provide students with access to abortion services. 

“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 [to] choose,” Newsom said in an online statement on Oct. 11. “We’re removing barriers to reproductive health — increasing access on college campuses and using technology to modernize how patients interact with providers.”

The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls will administer the College Student Health Center Sexual and Reproductive Health Preparation Fund in order to finance the abortion medication and services to student health centers at California public universities. 

The commission will distribute $200,000 to each health center. Expenses include hiring and training staff, purchasing equipment for abortion medication techniques and delivering telehealth services.

Campuses have until January 2023 to update their medication services in compliance with the new law.

UC Santa Cruz’s Student Health Center currently only supplies pregnancy testing, pregnancy counseling and referrals to off-campus abortion clinics. Before the College Student Right to Access Act, no public universities in California had on-campus abortion services for students. 

“UCSC Student Health Services believes students should have affordable and convenient reproductive health care of their choosing and we currently provide students with access to comprehensive reproductive health services,” said Elizabeth Miller, medical director of the Student Health Center, in an email. “The new law will further increase access to medical abortion by providing these services on site.”

The California Office of Legislative Counsel declared in Chapter 740 of their digest that abortion services are a constitutional right important for reproductive health care, and that the state must ensure safe and easy access for all those seeking abortions.