An Act to Ensure Safe, Equitable, and Affordable Access to Medication Abortion Through Public College and University Health Services

When it comes to reproductive freedom, access to care is the all-important factor that dictates our bodily autonomy. But for the thousands of college students in Massachusetts that live in “access deserts” where the nearest abortion provider is an hours-long drive away, this care is completely inaccessible. We can change this by passing An Act to Ensure Safe, Equitable, and Affordable Access to Medication Abortion Through Public College and University Health Services.

Many college students rely on their campus health centers for care, especially reproductive health care. Making medication abortion care available on campus would significantly improve access to reproductive health care, allowing students to remain in control of their lives, bodies, educations, and futures. No more hours-long trips to and from a faraway clinic, no more scraping together funds to pay for care and transportation, no more missing classes or internships, and no more avoiding care because of the many barriers in the way.

Students will be able to receive medication abortion care on campus.

Email your lawmakers in support of accessible medication abortion care on college campuses!

ACCESS DESERTS

Navigating an unplanned pregnancy in college is difficult to begin with. For a student in an access desert with limited time, financial resources, and transportation, getting to an abortion provider hours away can be a nearly impossible task.

An Act An Act to Ensure Safe, Equitable, and Affordable Access to Medication Abortion Through Public College and University Health Services ensures that individuals at public universities in Massachusetts won’t have their lives and educations interrupted to leave campus to receive routine early abortion care. The bill would:

  • Require public universities to provide medication abortion at the university’s health center and to provide referrals for abortion services not available on site.
  • Establish a fund that draws on both state and private donations to provide grants to universities to build the necessary infrastructure to provide medication abortion care.

TESTIMONIALS

Access to medication abortion care on public university campuses is crucial to supporting college students. Learn more about how a lack of access to abortion care harms students:

SHARE YOUR STORY

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Make your voice heard! Contact your lawmakers in support of An Act to Ensure Safe, Equitable, and Affordable Access to Medication Abortion Through Public College and University Health Services!

FAQ

Q: What is medication abortion?

A: Medication abortion uses two FDA-regulated oral medications to end a pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol, commonly referred to as “abortion pills.” The FDA has approved the use of these medications for abortion up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. The patient first takes mifepristone and then 24-48 hours later takes misoprostol. 1

Q: How is this different from a traditional abortion procedure?

A: Medication abortion uses pills, which are taken at home over two days, whereas aspiration abortion involves an in-clinic medical procedure. Medication abortion is often described as less invasive and more private.

Q: What are the side effects of this medication?

A: Most individuals who have a medication abortion will experience symptoms similar to a heavy period. This is a normal response to the medication. Some people experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, and fever.

Q: Who can provide medication abortion?

A: In Massachusetts, the following are able to provide medication abortions: Physicians (MD and DO), Nurse practitioners, Certified nurse midwives, and Physician assistants

Q: Is there a need for this service?

A: In 2017, medication abortions accounted for 39% of all abortions, and accounted for more than half of abortions that happened before 10 weeks gestation.2 Additionally, thousands of college students in the Commonwealth live in access deserts, regions where the closest abortion provider is hours away. Making this care available on campus is critical to helping students in access deserts get the reproductive health care they need.

Q: What are the barriers to students who want to access this service?

A: Many people experience barriers to accessing abortion care. Location and distance to a clinic, financial cost, time, scheduling conflicts when getting an appointment and reliability and access to transportation are all barriers students may face. These barriers disproportionately impact students of color, students with low incomes, and first-generation college students.

Q: Why can’t students just go off campus for these services?

A: The nearest services are often hours away from campus. Leaving campus often means missing class, an internship, family time, or a job. Additionally, it can be difficult to raise money for or find transportation to go to a far-away clinic.

Q: Is medication abortion safe?

A: Medication abortion is extremely safe and over 95% effective. Serious adverse events occur in less than 1/3rd of 1% of medication abortion. The abortion pill mifepristone is safer than Tylenol. 3, 4

Q: Can student health centers provide this service safely?

A: According to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, no special facility is required to provide medication abortion, and the risks associated are “both low and similar in magnitude to the reported risks of serious adverse effect of commonly used prescription and over-the-counter medications.”5 Medication abortion is less complicated than many of the other reproductive services already provided at campus health centers. Medication abortion has fewer risks than many other health services already provided at campus health centers.

Q: Do campus health centers have the capacity to provide this service?

A: Most health centers are already equipped to provide this service. In order to provide this service, some campuses may need to train staff and purchase equipment. Additionally, this act will establish a 24-hour advice line, billing assistance and any other upgrades needed to provide this service. Each campus student health center will be provided a grant of $200,000 to ensure readiness.

Q: Will insurance cover this service?

A: Yes, MassHealth, Medicaid, and private insurance will cover medication abortions in Massachusetts.6

1 Planned Parenthood, “How Does the Abortion Pill Work & What Should I Expect?,” Planned Parenthood, accessed June 16, 2020, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/abortion/the-abortion-pill/how-does-the-abortion-pill-work

2 Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, “Safety and effectiveness of first-trimester medication abortion in the United States,” May 2021.

3 Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, “Medication Abortion,” https://www.ansirh.org/abortion/medication-abortion

4“Induced Abortion in the United States,” May 8, 2020, https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states.

5 The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United

6 Massachusetts: Mifeprex: Mifepristone: ru486: Abortion Pill |,” Mifeprex | Mifepristone | Abortion Pill | RU486 | Early Option Pill, accessed June 23, 2020, http://www.earlyoptionpill.com/state/massachusetts/.

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