UMass Amherst will offer drug abortion starting in the fall


Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa is sponsoring a bill that could increase access to abortion services at public universities across the state.

Thousands attend the Defend Abortion Rally at Playstead Park in Franklin Park on October 2, 2021. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The University of Massachusetts Amherst announced last week that it would begin offering abortion medication at its health center next year. It’s a major victory for an effort led by State Representative Lindsay Sabadosa to close the gap in access to abortion in Massachusetts.

“The campus has heard from students that they want access to medically prescribed medication,” university officials said in response to a statement. Greeley Tribune Globe Inquiry. “Due to the remarkable distance from the Amherst campus to providers, and because the campus already provides comprehensive gynecological and reproductive care to students, UMass Amherst plans to deliver the medical abortion pill to students on site at our University Health Services Clinic. created.”

The closest Planned Parenthood to UMass Amherst is in Springfield, a more than two-hour trip for students who don’t have a car.

A drug abortion can be taken to end a pregnancy up to 10 weeks old and involves a two-step series of pills. The first pill, called mifepristone, stops the pregnancy from progressing by stopping the supply of the hormone responsible for maintaining the interior of the uterus. 24 to 48 hours after that pill comes a pill called Misoprostol which effectively induces abortion.

The pandemic significantly increased the availability of pharmaceutical abortions – by mid-December 2021, the pills had to be delivered by a clinic. Now they can be sent by Match, which opens the door for telemedicine providers to prescribe it. This method of abortion has been around in the United States for 20 years.

bill Sabadosa, a Democrat from Northampton, is sponsoring abortion services aimed specifically at making college students more accessible, requiring public universities to provide drug abortion services at student health centers. It will establish a fund administered by the Department of Public Health and the Department of Higher Education to help cover the cost of drug abortion options.

“At its core the bill is actually a healthcare infrastructure bill. … really what it tries to do is strengthen health services on campus,” Sabadosa said. “We really take the position that if you are providing drug abortion, you have the necessary equipment and training to better provide maternal health care on campus, you have access to better reproductive harm health care on campus. has the capacity to do so.”

A recent study by Carrie Ann Baker, professor of gender studies at Smith College, estimates that 600 to 1,380 public university students in Massachusetts receive drug abortion services each year. Sabadosa stressed that abortion is nothing new on college campuses.

The bill is currently with the Joint Committee on Public Health, Sabadosa said, with a reporting deadline of February 2.

Sabadosa said as some states try to take back access to reproductive health care, demand for services such as abortion is likely to increase in states such as Massachusetts, which have protected the right to those services.

“It’s time for the states that are really saying that abortion is healthcare to prove it,” Sabadosa said. “We’re talking about a pill that has fewer adverse effects than Claritin. So if we’re going to let people treat their allergies, we should let people manage their reproductive health care.”

The bill has drawn criticism and complaints from activists who are trying to block access to abortion on campuses across the country. Students for Life Action, which has groups in all 50 states, is pushing for a congressional bill that bans universities that provide drug abortion services from receiving federal funding.

“We think it compromises women’s safety,” Kate Scott, a 21-year-old biochemistry and molecular biology major who started a student life group at UMass Amherst two years ago, told Greeley Tribune Globe, “And we also think that this is outside the scope of what a public university should be doing. Especially with taxpayer funding.”

Sabdosa said medicinal abortions have long been performed partially at home. The second pill has been taken at home for years and the Food and Drug Administration of lifting Some rules on treatment have made it so both pills will be taken at home.

“It’s an incredibly safe procedure that I think people don’t even know about,” Sabadosa said. “People think abortion is surgery. It. It’s actually taking hormonal pills.”

Universities in Massachusetts have not jumped on the bill, as some campuses lack “robust medical facilities,” reported Vincent Pedon, the executive office of the State University Council of Presidents. globe,

The Supreme Court is expected to overturn a 49-year precedent in abortion this spring and allow states to ban abortions. Sabadosa said it is especially important in this environment that Massachusetts reduce the stigma that often surrounds abortion.

“We also need to be proactive in what the anti-poll movement is doing. We already know that there are fake clinics in the state – their number is three to one. We want to make sure that our students go to fake clinics. Don’t go. We want to make sure we don’t have fake mail-in websites where you’re not really getting the medicine,” Sabadossa said. “We want people to be protected”