College Puts 'Stake in the Ground' on Abortion Access

Private women's college Barnard will offer abortion pills to students beginning Sept. 2023
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2022 11:35 AM CDT
This College Will Soon Offer Abortion Pills
People enter the main gate to Barnard College in New York City on Dec. 12, 2019.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Barnard College says it will begin offering abortion pills to its students beginning in September 2023. The private women's college in Manhattan, which operates in partnership with Columbia University, made the announcement Thursday, saying it was preparing in case roadblocks were erected to abortion access in New York. "The overturning of Roe v. Wade after 50 years will likely decrease college accessibility, result in lower graduation rates, and derail employment trajectories," reads a statement published on its website. While "abortion rights remain unchanged in New York State ... we are also preparing in the event that there is a barrier to access in the future, for any reason."

The move isn't unique. A 2020 survey by the American College Health Association found 2.5% of 122 college health centers offered medication abortion on campus, per the New York Times. But Barnard's decision comes at a time when colleges in states with abortion bans are warning educators they could lose their jobs and face jail just for counseling students about abortion. Other states are working to expand access to abortion pills. Under a law passed in 2019, California's public colleges and universities must offer abortion pills by this coming January. And under a new law in Massachusetts, colleges and universities are required to submit plans for providing the pills to students by November 2023, per CNN.

Though Barnard is under no such obligation, "we're putting a stake in the ground that we believe that health and wellness is really the institution's responsibility for students, and we want to do everything we can to support our students," President Sian Beilock tells the Times. "With every reproductive health decision, but particularly around a pregnancy, we want to make sure that students have all of the options," adds Dr. Marina Catallozzi, Barnard's chief health officer. Officials say the pills will be covered by the college's health insurance plan, with emergency funding available for students who lack insurance or don't feel comfortable using their parents' insurance plans, per the Times. (More Barnard College stories.)

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