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Friday, April 12, 2024

As Roe v. Wade faces potential reversal, UC Davis organizations and larger community have resources for people seeking abortions

UC Davis students gather to protest Supreme Court decision, amplify local resources

By MALERIE HURLEY — features@theaggie.org

On Tuesday, May 10, students gathered on the Quad to march in response to the recent leaked draft of the Supreme Court majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Two students, fourth-year English and communication double major Isabella Holmes, co-president of Students for Reproductive Freedom, and second-year international relations major Celene Aridin, organizing director from the External Affairs Vice President’s Office of ASUCD, worked their way to the front of the circle waving their arms for silence to share resources for abortion access on campus and lay out guidelines for the march, attempting to corral the passionate students in their midst. 

“Last week, we all saw what the Supreme Court’s thoughts were, and it was just honestly devastating to see, especially in a country that says that everyone has political freedom and rights,” Aridin said. “Clearly there are people that no longer are allowed to have them, especially in some states. It’s super important to make sure that people know that they have support and that people know that we want to reach the pinnacle of what we can get.”

Students marched around the Quad chanting a variety of pro-choice slogans in conjunction with rallies occurring simultaneously at UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego. Students were angry, pouring out their frustration at the reversal of the SCOTUS decision that has protected citizens’ reproductive freedom and that will adversely impact so many marginalized groups in red states. While the expected overturn will likely have little effect on California residents, many students, especially out-of-state students returning home to red states for the summer, may be feeling a lot of anxiety about the state of abortion access in the future.

In the face of this uncertainty, coordinators at the Love Lab, a cart operated through Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), are committed to providing safe sex products and helping direct students who need abortion services to local providers. Located on the third floor in the Health and Promotion office of the Student Health and Wellness Center, the Love Lab is a mobile cart stocked with safe sex products and informational pamphlets on STI testing, HIV awareness, pelvic health and other important sexual health information. 

Staffed by knowledgeable student coordinators and sexual health specialists trained to advise students of all backgrounds, the Love Lab also provides counseling, and is able to talk pregnant students through their options and support their needs. 

Alyson Kahn, a third-year medicine major and Student Coordinator for the Sexual Wellbeing Team at Health and Promotion, shared Love Lab’s approach to providing abortion counseling and directing students to local services available.

“We do not currently offer abortions in house as SHCS, but in January of 2023, all college health centers in California will be required by law to provide medical abortions, which involves taking two pills,” Kahn said. “A medical abortion is not the same as a surgical abortion, and as of right now we will be referring [pregnant] students, if they want to have an abortion, to the Women’s Clinic at Sutter Health in Davis, or Planned Parenthood in Woodland or Sacramento. For students with the UC Health Insurance SHIP plan, these services will be covered.”

Medication abortions, or self-managed abortions, involve taking two pills, mifepristone and/or misoprostol, and can be done at a doctor’s office or with guidance at home. 

Holmes recently led a Students for Reproductive Freedom meeting educating students about self-managed abortions and said that she hopes to spread the truth about these procedures to students who may rely on this option — especially those returning home to red states for the summer.

“Self-managed abortion is available, even when it is illegal,” Holmes said. “You can access the abortion pills online, and it can be delivered to your house. In a lot of places it’s not illegal, and it’s more of a telemedicine thing, but in some states where it would be against the law, it’s pretty accessible if you have the funds, very safe and 95% effective.”

According to Plan C, a site which provides abortion seekers with information about how to obtain abortion pills delivered right to their door,Abortion pills block pregnancy hormones (mifepristone) and cause cramping and bleeding (misoprostol).This causes the pregnancy to end and come out of the body. It is like a miscarriage. You can expect a few hours of heavy bleeding and cramping and several days of lighter bleeding.” Websites like Plan C and Hey Jane also offer medical professionals on hand to guide users through the process. 

It’s important to note that medication abortions should be performed within the first 11 weeks of a pregnancy, as the procedure is more painful and less effective if used later. The first method of medication abortion, using both mifepristone and misoprostol, is the most common and effective form of medication abortion. 

But, because mifeprostone is an abortion pill and requires a prescription to obtain, the first method may not be accessible to those in red states where medication abortions may be restricted or banned should Roe v. Wade is overturned. Thus, another medication abortion method, which involves taking only misoprostol, can be used for those in states where abortion is illegal. Commonly sold as an over-the-counter anti-ulcer drug, misoprostol does not require a prescription, is 85% effective in ending pregnancy and is endorsed by the World Health Organization for those who don’t have access to mifepristone. 

 While many have negative associations with self-managed abortions, self-managed abortions are incredibly safe, with a less than 1% risk of complications, according to Doctors Without Borders.

While health services like the Love Lab and other organizations remain committed to ensuring students have access to abortion, organizations like Students for Reproductive Freedom aim to fight restrictive laws that will likely be triggered in some states once the formal decision is released from the court sometime in June. In collaboration with organizations like Planned Parenthood and Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), student activists are now engaging in lobbying work and direct actions to demand that Congress codify Roe v. Wade into law through the Women’s Health Protection Act

Indira D’Souza, a third-year global disease biology major and co-President of Students for Reproductive Freedom, shared resources for students who want to get involved in fighting for reproductive justice and ensuring access to abortion nationwide.

“People should call their representatives at the national level to tell them to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act,” D’Souza said. “I know that it got voted on and failed recently […], but continue to keep the pressure on your elected officials. Additionally, donating to abortion funds and local clinics is probably the most immediately impactful thing that you can do that has a tangible difference in the life of someone who needs an abortion.”

UC Davis students should understand that there will continue to be abortion services available in the state and local and national organizations fighting these laws and restrictions until equitable abortion access is a reality for all.

Written by: Malerie Hurley — features@theaggie.org

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