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Davis, California

Saturday, May 25, 2024

In the fight for abortion rights, every ruling matters

Californians should not feel immune to attacks on reproductive healthcare 

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

In an unsurprising turn of events, Arizona made headlines this week by blocking attempts to repeal an 1864 abortion ban. Republicans have repeatedly stalled voting on the ban, which provides no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Former President Trump, who recently declared support for state-led abortion laws, drew bipartisan attention by criticizing the decision to reinstate the bill as going too far.

This is amid other unnerving news such as the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that IVF embryos can be legally considered children and Florida Gov. DeSantis’ abortion bill, which bans most abortions before six weeks. As of April 2024, 21 states have an active ban on abortion or restrictions more extreme than allowed under Roe v. Wade.

The purpose of this editorial is not to convince anyone of the importance of legal abortion in the United States; studies have shown time and time again that restricting abortion does not lower the number of abortions, but instead has serious negative impacts on people’s health and livelihood, especially for people of color. Instead, the Editorial Board asks you to keep paying attention. It may seem like Californians are safe from the anti-abortion sweep, but essential lobbying and legislation are happening all the time, and happening here too.

Even though abortion is protected by the California Constitution, this state is not exempt from the nationwide issue of legality versus access, where people may be unable to find or use essential reproductive health services regardless of whether such services are legal. Rural areas often have a difficult time attracting and keeping qualified physicians in their towns. Many people cannot afford to take time off to receive and recover from reproductive health care. Local groups harass reproductive health clinics and their patients. All of these issues exist here in California, one of the most liberal states in the country. Supporting local reproductive health clinics and telehealth gives patients a better opportunity to stay healthy and safe. 

Moreover, California does not exist in a vacuum. What we do in this state inspires and impacts others. California took many of the first and boldest steps to protect abortion rights post-Roe, and many other states took their cues from us. Because of our legal protections, many people travel to California to get abortions and other life-saving healthcare. 

Abortion is incredibly relevant to us as UC Davis students. A vast majority of students are not currently trying to get pregnant, though many are sexually active. Even for those who practice safer sex, unwanted pregnancy is always a possibility. Sexual assault is also an unfortunate reality, particularly on college campuses. 

Many of us or our peers come from outside of California, and plenty factored the political environment into their decision to come to Davis. A 2023 study found that three-quarters of polled college students took reproductive health laws into account when deciding to stay enrolled in their current campus. In short, fighting for reproductive health access is essential to keeping our campus welcoming and safe for students. 

Pay attention to where you can access reproductive health care in your community. For UC Davis students, keep in mind resources like the Sexess Map, Student Health and Counseling Services and the Planned Parenthood Health Center in Woodland. On-campus organizations like the Love Lab and the Women’s Resources and Research Center can also help you find information on where to get care. Even if you may not need a pregnancy test or emergency contraceptive, it’s likely that someone in your life at some point will. Being openly supportive and judgment-free about sexual health can build a support network and could end up changing someone’s life for the better. 

And vote. Not every bill will be “Abortion: Yes or No,” but there are plenty of candidates, legislation and conversations that support or undermine our reproductive rights. So cast your ballot and raise your voice — don’t let lawmakers drag us back into the 1800s.   

Written by: The Editorial Board

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