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Amid nationwide attacks on reproductive rights, California should pass SB 24
The Calif. State Senate Health Committee recently passed Senate Bill 24, which would require all California public universities to provide abortion by medical techniques, otherwise known as the abortion pill, on their campuses by 2023. The bill, which has yet to appear before the Senate Education Committee before it can be put to a vote on the Senate floor, has the potential to alleviate the immense burden on the shoulders of students in need of comprehensive reproductive care.
The Editorial Board believes that, at a time when a pregnant person’s right to make reproductive choices still sparks a contentious and politicized debate, the passage of SB 24 would be a monumental step in ensuring that students’ right to choose stays both intact and protected. Many Democrats, including Governor Gavin Newsom, have openly shown support for the bill.
The bill does, of course, have its fair share of opposition. Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed an earlier version of this bill in 2018, downplaying the necessity of the legislation by stating that abortion services were “widely available off-campus.” Others claim that the easy access to abortion pills would result in college students making rash decisions about their bodies.
While clinics like Planned Parenthood do typically provide abortion services, accessibility to these services is often hindered by factors like financial barriers or lack of transportation to sometimes distant clinics. If a student fears judgment and doesn’t wish to disclose their pregnancy, it can be extremely difficult to arrange the trip without depending on others. Students shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable, navigate their way through unnecessary obstacles or miss class responsibilities for a medical need that could easily and privately be resolved on their college campuses.
The argument that students would make quick and irrational decisions if abortion was made more easily available is heavily laced with misogyny. The argument implies that students can’t manage their own reproductive health without ill-informed legislators and intense regulation molding the way in which they should lead their lives. Elsewhere in the United States, legislators are actively working to strip people of their right to reproductive care. In Alabama, a severe abortion ban, which incriminates doctors who perform abortions and does not offer exemptions even in cases of rape or incest, was recently signed into law by the state governor. Amidst the attacks on Roe v. Wade, California must remain proactive in protecting reproductive rights.
The facts couldn’t be more apparent. Students have sex. Students have unwanted pregnancies. Ignoring these facts will not alter the reality, but providing resources can. Not only does making abortion more accessible uphold the fundamental principles outlined in Roe, but studies also show that the best way to lower the rate of poverty in communities is more accessibility to birth control resources. If students are able to terminate pregnancies that they are not financially ready for and thus prolong the amount of time they spend in school or building a career, they can provide more stable futures for themselves and any potential children.
Providing abortion pills on California public university campuses is, simply put, a matter of reproductive justice. Student health care centers should not be selective about which aspects of health care that they would like to address. Our students deserve convenient, unobstructed and equal access to all medical services, including abortion pills.
Written by: The Editorial Board