Legislators introduce bill to defund colleges that dispense abortion pill

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) introduced the Protecting Life on College Campus Act of 2023 on Friday, the day of the 50th annual March for Life — the first national pro-life march since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The bill would remove federal funding from colleges and universities that provide students or employees with the abortion pill. The lawmakers also introduced this legislation in 2021.

The bill states that it would prohibit “the award of federal funds to an institution of higher education that hosts or is affiliated with a student-based service site that provides abortion drugs or abortions” to students or university staff. It defines abortion drugs as any substance or drug used to intentionally kill a preborn child or to end a pregnancy with an intention other than producing a live birth, removing a deceased preborn child, or treating an ectopic pregnancy. The abortion pill regimen includes two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol.

“A college dorm room is no place to have a do-it-yourself abortion, and the American taxpayer should not be paying for the destruction of innocent human life on our college campuses. But, as we already know, what the abortion industry really cares about are profits—not the welfare of mothers or the integrity of higher learning,” Roy said in Friday’s press release. “The Protecting Life on College Campuses Act is about guarding young college women and their unborn children from the predatory abortion industry’s radical and reckless push for universal access to abortions.”

In order to receive funding, colleges and universities would have to show proof that they do not dispense the abortion pill on campus by submitting an annual report to the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The pro-life legislation was introduced about three weeks after a California law requiring public universities to provide abortion pills in their student health centers took effect on January 1. That law will force the state’s 34 University of California and California State University campuses to provide abortion pills to students. New York is also taking steps to require the same of its public universities following Gov. Kathy Hochul’s announcement on January 10 that she aims to ensure easy access to the abortion pill for college students.

In contrast, only about half of U.S. college campuses offer any form of child care for students who choose to parent their children. Jacqueline Corey, director of the Manchester Child Development Center at the University of San Diego, says that while “[t]he number of students with dependents has risen over the last several decades… a 2017 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research” showed that there has been a decline in campuses offering childcare. “The same report indicated that, in 2004, 53 percent of community colleges had a child care center; 10 years later, just 44 percent did. Four-year universities report similar numbers,” she wrote.

The abortion pill has been found to be four times more dangerous than a first-trimester surgical abortion, and as at-home use of the abortion pill expands across the nation, a group of doctors is warning emergency room physicians to be on alert for life-threatening ectopic pregnancies after administration of the abortion pill.

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According to the FDA’s website, “As of June 30, 2022, there are 28 reports of deaths in patients associated with mifepristone since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy located outside the womb, such as in the fallopian tubes), resulting in death; and several fatal cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis).*

The New York Times pointed out that the dangers to both women’s mental health and physical health from the abortion pill are causing some colleges to resist providing the abortion pill. “There are some valid security concerns,” Dr. Guy W. Nicolette, assistant vice chancellor for University Health Services at the University of California, Berkeley (where the abortion pill has been available to students since the fall of 2020), said. He added that “not every provider feels competent or comfortable doing this.”

*The FDA has received reports of serious adverse events in patients who took mifepristone. As of June 30, 2022, there were 28 reports of deaths in patients associated with mifepristone since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy located outside the womb, such as in the fallopian tubes) resulting in death; and several fatal cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis). The adverse events cannot with certainty be causally attributed to mifepristone because of concurrent use of other drugs, other medical or surgical treatments, co-existing medical conditions, and information gaps about patient health status and clinical management of the patient. A summary report of adverse events that reflects data through June 30, 2022, is here. The FDA has reviewed this information and did not identify any new safety signals. The FDA intends to update this summary report as appropriate.

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