Kamala Harris Meets with Higher Education Leaders to Discuss Abortion Care, Access

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U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo credit Greg Skidmore

On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona hosted a roundtable meeting with eight higher education leaders from across the country to discuss the challenges that college students face in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse federal abortion protections. 

Institutions represented at the meeting included small private liberal arts colleges, the historically Black Howard University, large public universities, and the Ivy League Dartmouth College.

Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, also attended the meeting.

One of the most pressing challenges that schools face is addressing the “50-state patchwork quilt of varying law and guidance” regarding abortion, Mitchell stated.

“The clock is ticking on every campus, every university in America to figure out what can and cannot be done to support students, faculty, and staff,” he told Harris.

Experts argue that the wide variety of abortion laws from state to state creates abortion care oases and deserts that put a high burden on women students seeking out-of-state abortions and the medical facilities that allow the procedures. Howard Gillman, chancellor of the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), stated in the meeting that the Court’s decision would significantly impact UC’s medical centers due to increased demand from abortion-restricted states.

“Many of our students, faculty, and patients find themselves in other states, and we are now thinking hard about how to extend our support to our community when [they] are in states that impose restrictions on care,” he said. “[UC’s] medical centers also anticipate a huge surge in out-of-state patients seeking access to reproductive care. And it is going to be a challenge to find the resources necessary to meet that demand.”