Dear Members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee,
We are writing today as members of Fresno Pro-Life Future to express our opposition to California Senate Bill 24, which would mandate the distribution of abortion drugs on college campuses. The bill would place a tremendous financial and legal burden on schools and shift responsibilities for medical care from hospitals and clinics to school health centers, which are not equipped to deal with the many complications that can arise from abortion and pregnancy.
Additionally, as the drugs cause extreme bleeding, universities are not equipped with the tools to respond to complications or to administer blood should a woman begin hemorrhaging. What does this ultimately mean for the school? Universities could face liability issues should a woman die when consuming these drugs, and women have died when taking them, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Something that may seem as simple as swallowing an ibuprofen is a serious procedure that can have several complications. UpToDate, a resource accessed by millions of clinicians worldwide, states, “medication abortion avoids a surgical procedure and anesthesia, but takes a longer time [in comparison to surgical abortion] (several days)…the patient usually experiences more uncomfortable effects and over a longer period of time (bleeding, cramping, nausea, vomiting). The patient has a greater awareness of the blood loss and may be able to identify pregnancy tissue that passes…some patients will require a surgical abortion if the medication abortion is unsuccessful. If the patient has an ongoing pregnancy, there is a risk of fetal abnormalities.”
Surgical Abortion Cost
Dr. Daniel Grossman, a witness testifying on behalf of this bill several times in the past year and a half, stated that at least 3% of the time, the woman requires a follow-up surgical abortion, though numerous sources, including one that Grossman co-authored, state that the failure rate is about 3% only when the woman has an abortion at 6 weeks pregnancy. If the woman is in the later-accepted stages, the failure rate is over 15% (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). If the estimate of this bill’s proponents is correct, about 500 students would utilize these services each month. This means that between 15-75 students per month will need a follow-up surgical abortion to complete the process. These women would effectively be getting two abortions – how will these numerous follow-up surgical abortions, transportation, and any other expenses due to complications be funded?
Increased Cost to Students
Estimates for time taken to travel to the abortion pill provider are based on public transportation, taking much more time than an Uber. Of course, an Uber has a small charge, but is much faster than the 30-minute bus route estimate presented by proponents of the bill. Last year, the author stated that this Uber cost would be more of a burden for students; however, if a student is on Medi-Cal, transportation services are provided for free. The CSU and UC systems both stated in Appropriations committee analyses (both in May 2019 and August 2018) that the funds for SB-24 are insufficient by the millions and that the cost would
likely fall to the students – so although this bill should be saving us from spending money on an Uber, it will actually cost us more in our mandatory student fees.
In the Senate Appropriations Committee analysis in May 2019, the UC estimated a “funding shortfall of $4.6 to $7.8 million…. beginning January 1, 2023, no source of funding is provided in SB 24. Without funding, the student health centers will incur ongoing costs in the range of $2.2 to $3.2 annually. Unless financing is made available post 2023, by the state or foundation, this cost will fall to students.” This is a fiscally irresponsible bill.
The UC has also stated several times in testimonies during hearings since April 2017, and including the Assembly Higher Education hearing in June 2019, that this bill was brought about because of a failure in the referral process—not due to lack of abortion access. Each hearing has provided testimony from supporters of the bill that include experiences of having to wait too long to take the abortion pill because of a failure to refer the student to the correct facility, thus disqualifying the student from being able to take the abortion pill and rather having a surgical abortion. This bill should be focusing on the cause of the problem, not creating a very expensive alternative and labeling it as a solution to a non-existent problem.
More Schools Means More Expenses
Though the author continues to cite cases in which abortion is located 15 miles from abortion pill providers, universities like Cal Poly, which is located 1.7 miles from an abortion pill provider, continue to be included in this bill’s mandate. Mandating all 34 public universities to provide abortion pills would require ongoing costs that do not fit the author’s rationale for this program. No amendment has yet been discussed to exempt schools inside this radius from being required to implement this program. This point was again ignored during the Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing in June 2019.
Thousands of signatures were collected last year to petition the California legislature to vote “no” on last term’s SB-320 campus abortion bill. These petitions were signed by both pro-life and pro-choice individuals. Former pro-choice governor, Jerry Brown, vetoed this bill just last year because it is unnecessary.
There are more questions than answers regarding this bill. Thank you for your time in considering our concerns as you discern your stance on SB-24.
President, Fresno Pro-Life Future