SACRAMENTO (BP) -- Pro-lifers in California and across the country are celebrating a surprising win delivered by the state's pro-abortion rights governor, Jerry Brown.
Brown vetoed a bill Sept. 30 that would have required the state's public universities to provide abortion drugs for students by Jan. 1, 2022. A longtime supporter of abortion rights, the governor said in his veto message that the legislation is unnecessary because such abortion services "are widely available off-campus."
"What a refreshing thing, to see someone do the right thing, even if it means siding against one's tribe," Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said. "Governor Brown and I disagree on some important things -- the right to life for unborn children being one of them. But I am thankful indeed to see him veto this measure that would put abortion-inducing drugs on campuses across the state of California.
"Governor Brown vetoed this bill because he thought it unnecessary, since these drugs are so widely available around the state," Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in written comments for Baptist Press. "I'm praying for a day when the abortion debate itself is similarly unnecessary, because the thought of snuffing out the life of unborn children would be deemed unthinkable throughout society."
Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council (CFC), said his response to news of Brown's veto was: "To be perfectly honest, a little bit of shock, a little bit of gratitude, and a whole lot of relief.
"It's hard to really know the mind of Governor Brown," Keller told BP in a phone interview. "He obviously is well known as a fairly pro-abortion governor, but in this case we're just thanking the Lord that, whatever the reasoning was, we had a reprieve in this fight."
The CFC is a partner organization of the California Southern Baptist Convention, and Keller is a member of a Southern Baptist church.
The vetoed legislation not only would have mandated that student health centers at University of California and California State University campuses make pills that cause abortions available to female students, but it would have established a public-private fund for the requirement. The bill would have required private donations of at least $9.6 million for the measure to be implemented.
In his written veto message, Brown said, "Access to reproductive health services, including abortion, is a long-protected right in California." A study sponsored by the bill's supporters showed "the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance," he said.
"Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary," Brown said.
RU 486 or mifepristone, the best known abortion drug, is used as the first part in a two-step process. It causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, resulting in his or her death. A second drug, misoprostol, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the dead child.
The process is riskier to a woman's health than surgical abortion and potentially traumatic when she delivers the body of her dead baby, pro-life physicians and others say.
"This reckless push to turn college campuses into dispensaries for dangerous abortion drugs was a bridge too far even for pro-abortion Governor Jerry Brown. He was right to veto it," said Chuck Donovan, president of the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, in a written statement.
The vetoed bill "was a threat to women's health and safety and an offense to taxpayers who subsidize the public university system," Donovan said. "It's encouraging that even in one of the nation's most extreme pro-abortion states, common sense can prevail over the human indifference of the abortion lobby."
Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva, the bill's sponsor, promised to reintroduce the bill in the next session, The Sacramento Bee reported.
If her next attempt gains legislative approval, she is likely to have an ally in the governor's office. A Democrat, Brown will complete his fourth non-consecutive term as governor in January.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, leads Republican John Cox by an average of more than 19 points in the gubernatorial race, according to Real Clear Politics. Newsom said Oct. 2 he would have signed the legislation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Brown also offered a surprise in 2017 when he vetoed a bill that would have made it illegal for religious organizations to bar employees from having abortions.
Keller said it is not a foregone conclusion the proposal will become law in the next legislative session.
He anticipates the "aggressive pro-abortion forces in California will try to reintroduce something along these line," Keller told BP. "But these things are unpredictable. I mean sometimes other legislators look at the defeat at the governor's office, and sometimes it just gives them pause. Sometimes it really does make them reconsider why they're pushing so aggressively for this."
The Charlotte Lozier Institute is the research and education arm of the Susan B. Anthony List.