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Davis

Davis, California

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Medication abortions are now available through UC Davis Student Health

California Senate Bill 24 further protects students’ reproductive rights amid the overturn of Roe v. Wade

 

By MARIA MARTINEZ CASTRO  — features@theaggie.org 

 

The new year has brought a new wave of laws to California, some of them pertaining to reproductive rights. 

As of Jan. 1, in conjunction with Senate Bill (SB) 24, which passed in 2019 and went into effect at the start of 2023, University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) campuses are required to provide medication abortion to students in their student health centers.

Medication abortion is a safe and effective way to terminate an early pregnancy by taking two pills less than 11 weeks into a pregnancy.  

Indira D’Souza, a fourth-year global disease biology major and president of Students for Reproductive Freedom (SRF) at UC Davis, said SB 24 is impactful on students’ reproductive rights.

“SB 24 [is] a really awesome bill [that] passed in 2019, requiring CSU and UC campuses to provide medication abortion or abortion pills for students at their student health centers,” D’Souza said. “There was a study at UCSF that found that implementing this bill will impact about 6,000 students. So, I think that makes a huge difference across all of our campuses.” 

Stephanie Ha, a fourth-year human development major and sexual well-being student coordinator at the UC Davis LoveLab, said that SB 24 allows students to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive health. 

“We think it’s very important to be inclusive and credible resources for all UC Davis students so that they can make decisions that are best for themselves in their own bodies and in their own lives,” Ha said. “For Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) to provide medication abortion allows students to make these decisions for themselves.” 

The LoveLab, a mobile cart located on the third floor of the Student Health and Wellness Center, provides safer sex products such as condoms and dental dams. Additionally, the LoveLab focuses on sharing educational information, as well as promoting reproductive health services, such as those in the SHCS center. 

Students can access long-acting reversible contraceptives such as the ring and IUDs at the SHCS center, according to Blake Flaugher, a sexual well-being specialist in health education and promotion within student health and counseling. There is an additional cost to contraceptives for students not insured by SHIP. 

Both the LoveLab and SRF acknowledge that conversations around sexual health and reproductive rights are often deemed taboo. However, as supporters of bodily autonomy and sexual well-being, both entities understand that having these conversations is crucial in creating a safe environment for students, according to Alison Khan, a fourth-year human development major and LoveLab sexual well-being student coordinator.

“We say to just talk about it,” Khan said. “Everyone can learn about sexual and reproductive health and the barriers and stigmas surrounding these topics through reliable sources such as the LoveLab. By learning more and talking about these [topics], we can bring awareness to reproductive rights issues and support students and reproductive rights.”

SRF starts these conversations in weekly meetings and at tabling events. 

“We definitely want to make people not just aware but feel comfortable talking about abortion and sexual health in their everyday life,” D’Souza said. “It doesn’t have to be like this taboo, forbidden thing that someone has to be ashamed about.”

In light of the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, people have started to wonder about the future of reproductive rights across the country, as it is changing state by state. 

“We have seen an increase in the number of students who reach out with questions about birth control and abortion access,” Ha said. 

D’Souza says having medical abortion access on campuses for students is highly beneficial. While at universities, many students face more responsibilities and restrictions than they are used to. Some students might have multiple jobs or have unreliable access to transportation that could prevent them from accessing abortion services outside campus boundaries.

 “The first [benefit] is that students get access,” D’Souza said. “Many students at universities, especially at UC Davis, don’t have cars. We bike everywhere […] so, [SB 24] creates access within really close distance. While people are going about their lives, they can also go to the health center and receive abortion and necessary healthcare if they need it.” 

SB 24 implementation also creates a benefit for individuals that have been denied access to abortion services in other states. 

“[Medication abortion on campuses] also frees up some of those appointments for people who are coming from out of state,” D’Souza said. “Because of the fall of Roe v. Wade, we’re seeing an influx of people coming from other states into California, Oregon and Washington. It’s really important that we expand access, like on UC campuses, so that we are accessing abortions here.” 

While SB 24 does make medical abortion more available to students at UC Davis, D’Souza explained that given the university’s resources, UC Davis could do even more to expand their abortion services.

“I think offering medication abortion on campus is good […] but if you’re not providing transportation to students, if you’re not providing small grants to students to cover costs, I don’t think that’s doing enough,” D’Souza said. “It’s up to organizations like us to offer the rides and offer cost support.”

UC Davis and SHCS do offer grants for out-of-pocket medical costs through the Health Equity Fund, including for transportation to and from medical services. According to the website, students can complete a grant application through the Health-e-Messaging system. 

 D’Souza also says offering surgical abortion could be a further improvement on the part of the UC.

“We’re connected to a world-class health system,” D’Souza said. “UC Davis Health definitely has the resources. It just needs to be more inclusive of the UC Davis community as a whole.” 

Groups and resources such as SRF and the LoveLab are central in the efforts to provide students with information and access to safe sex and reproductive rights and services on campus. According to student activists and educators, universities should continue the path of fully protecting students’ reproductive rights as well as making abortion and sexual health education more equitable and accessible for all. 

 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that UC Davis does not offer financial assistance for transportation to healthcare services. The article has been updated to include the correct information about services provided. 

Written by: Maria Martinez Castro — features@theaggie.org