Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced a bill that would strip all federal funding from colleges and universities if they perform abortions or provide abortion drugs to students and staff on campus.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mon.), who founded and chairs the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, on Wednesday announced the Protecting Life on College Campus Act of 2021 at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol building. The House version of the bill was introduced by Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Mary Miller (R-Ill.).
The goal of the proposed legislation (pdf), according to its text, is to prohibit all direct or indirect federal funding for any college or university “that hosts or is affiliated with any school-based service site that provides abortion drugs or abortions to students of the institution or to employees of the institution or site.”
The bill would also require institutions of higher education that host a health clinic to send an annual report to the Education and Health Departments, “certifying that no such site provides abortion drugs or abortions” to students and staff, otherwise they would lose eligibility for federal funding.
If passed as is, the legislation would affect public universities in states such as California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019 signed a law requiring that the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems offer abortion medication on their campuses. Those institutions receive billions in federal funds.
According to a report by the University of California, San Francisco, an estimated 322 to 519 UC and CSU students seek chemical abortion each month.
Daines criticized the California law, arguing that chemical abortions are dangerous and they target “very vulnerable young women.”
“We can’t let our campus clinics become abortion clinics,” he said at the Wednesday press conference, adding that “the craziness in California” could become mainstream in the United States if left unchallenged.
Daines was joined by Chip Roy, who called the legislation “the next logical step in our quest to protect life.”
“We shouldn’t be a country where we take women at their most vulnerable time, when they’re young, when they’ve gone off to college in this case we’re talking about, and essentially allow for there to be chemically induced abortion, for a do-it-yourself abortion,” Roy said. He also noted that the bill is consistent with Hyde Amendment that blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.
As of 2017, 39 percent of all abortions in the United States were conducted using a combination of abortion drugs known as Mifepristone, which blocks a hormone called progesterone that is needed for a pregnancy to continue, and Misoprostol, which causes contractions to expel the child from the womb. According to a 2009 study, about seven percent of women who undergo chemical abortion experience complications afterward which require surgery.