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Bill advances to guarantee abortion medication access at all SUNY campuses

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The New York State Assembly took a significant step forward on Tuesday, advancing a proposal that would mandate public colleges and universities in the state to provide access to abortion medication on campus. If enacted, the legislation would require State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) campuses to collaborate with authorized prescribers and supply students with information and referrals for local prescribers.

This legislative move comes amidst an unclear future for medication abortion access, with conflicting federal rulings on the legality of the mifepristone pill, used in medication abortions, potentially heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie emphasized that New York intends to maintain access to abortion and reproductive healthcare as other states and the Supreme Court may reduce it.

Despite opposition from the New York Catholic Conference, which argues that the measure lacks proper safeguards and consideration for women’s health, proponents of the legislation insist it would provide a secure environment for the procedure. Assemblyman Harvey Epstein highlighted the need for accessible services for college-aged individuals, who often have fewer resources to obtain abortion care.

In an effort to increase access to medication abortion procedures, New York has recently taken additional steps, including Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement of a 150,000-dose stockpile of misoprostol, another drug used in medication abortions. As the state budget negotiations continue, Democratic lawmakers and Governor Hochul are considering further measures to address access concerns, such as increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, allocating $25 million for providers, allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control, and implementing new data privacy protections.