UPDATE: This piece has been updated to reflect a statement from the State University of New York (SUNY).
Students and lawmakers rallied near Barnard College in New York City on Wednesday in support of legislation that would require New York colleges to provide access to abortion pills, according to the rally’s event page.
The bill would specifically require that schools within the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) systems to provide abortion medication at affiliated health centers, according to the bills’ text. Barnard College announced in October that it would ensure that on-campus abortion medication would be available to students by the Fall 2023 semester, making it the first college in the state to announce such a plan.
NY Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and Democrat state Senator Cordell Cleare, who sponsored the bills, as well as Democrat Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas attended the rally, according to Epstein’s tweet. The rally was sponsored by the Reproductive Justice Collective NY, which claims to “advocat[e] for reproductive rights with an intersectional focus” at Columbia University and in New York City.
Joined the Reproductive Justice Collective, @SenatorCCleare, @votejgr, @PSC_CUNY 1st VP @avsqz, @uupinfo VP Alissa Karl, & @PPGNYact to demand medication abortion on SUNY/CUNY campuses.
Medication abortion is healthcare! It should be available at student health centers. pic.twitter.com/S9ShwmFi7B
— Harvey Epstein (@HarveyforNY) December 14, 2022
The bill would affect 89 public colleges in the state, according to a press release issued by Epstein and Cordell. It would require public universities to stock abortion pills in their health centers or, if they cannot, provide referrals to hospitals or clinics off-campus. It would also establish a fund for abortion mediation which would be overseen by the State Comptroller, health commissioner and chancellors from both university systems. (RELATED: STUDY: Demand For Abortion Pills Spiked In Red States Post-Dobbs)
The lawmakers also called on Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul of New York “to incorporate the legislation and funding in her first executive budget after winning a full term.”
The lawmakers claim that it is necessary to increase accessibility to abortion as SUNY campuses, on average, are located 11 miles away from an abortion provider and due to “increased harassment at clinics across New York, by anti-abortion groups that have been emboldened as a result of the Dobbs decision.”
“SUNY campuses offer a wide array of medical services for the hundreds of thousands of students in need of medical attention,” Holly Liapis, assistant vice chancellor of communications & press secretary for SUNY, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “For students seeking reproductive health care, our campus medical staff offer easy access to services that may include abortion medication, along with referring students to nearby reproductive health providers to provide a full spectrum of services.”
“New York continues to expand access and be a beacon of hope in any corner of our state and at every SUNY campus to ensure women always have access to the resources they need to receive the best reproductive care available,” Liapis continued.
“Students rely on their health centers for medical care. Abortion is medical care, yet far too many schools do not provide access to abortion services at their health centers,” Epstein said in the press release. “As we face an increasingly hostile environment for civil rights, in New York we’re fighting back to guarantee not only the right to abortion but access to it for a population that has limited time, resources, and transportation options.”
Gonzáloz-Rojas called putting abortion pills in university health center “a no-brainer.”
CUNY, Epstein, González-Rojas, Cleare, the Reproductive Justice Collective NY, Columbia and Hochul did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundations request for comment. Barnard College confirmed that the rally was not held on its campus.
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