Statement on Recent Legislation Regarding Reproductive Rights
October 20, 2021
As the principal leadership organization advocating for the health and well-being of college students and campus communities, the American College Health Association (ACHA) is deeply concerned about state legislation banning abortions, medical counseling, and support related to abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
As a public health organization, ACHA advocates for college students’ access to unbiased, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. According to the ACHA Sexual Health Services Survey for Calendar Year 2020, 91% of participating student health services reported providing “all-options” pregnancy counseling and education, which includes providing referrals to abortion services (86.9%) or providing medical abortion services on-site (2.5%). These services are consistent with recommendations in our Framework for a Comprehensive College Health Program, which calls for the inclusion of reproductive health care in student health services. It is critical that health centers can provide unbiased resources, support, and all-options counseling so that patients can make their own informed decisions when it comes to their reproductive health and future. Further, clinicians and providers at student health services centers must be able to provide evidence-based and unbiased care without fear of retaliation from private citizens who exist outside the patient-provider relationship in question.
The lack of these supportive care services could have a disastrous impact on the individual, the institution they attend, and the communities of which they are a part:
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in its advocacy brief “Facts are Important: Abortion is Healthcare,” states, “Where abortion is illegal or highly restricted, women resort to unsafe means to end unwanted pregnancies, including self-inflicted abdominal and bodily trauma, ingestion of dangerous chemicals, self-medication with a variety of drugs, and reliance on unqualified abortion providers. Today, approximately 21 million women around the world obtain unsafe, illegal abortions each year, and complications from these unsafe procedures account for approximately 13% of all maternal deaths, nearly 50,000 annually.”
- Findings from a longitudinal study examining the effects of unwanted pregnancy on women’s lives show that denying a woman an abortion creates economic hardship and insecurity which lasts for years. According to the researchers, the “main finding of the study is that receiving an abortion does not harm the health and wellbeing of women, but in fact, being denied an abortion results in worse financial, health, and family outcomes.”
Student patients should be able to access comprehensive care services that support their needs, wants, and life goals. This includes protecting their right to bodily integrity by allowing them the freedom to obtain all-options counseling and to choose to have an abortion or seek further prenatal care.