State Senate bill requiring public college abortion services passes Assembly committee

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Amanda Ramirez/File

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On Tuesday, the California Assembly Committee on Health voted 10–4 to advance SB 320, which would require that all California public university student medical centers provide medical abortion services to students.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, where it must be approved before being sent to the Committee on Appropriations and then possibly reaching the Assembly floor for a full vote. The fight for campus abortion services started in 2016, with an ASUC resolution that urged UC Berkeley’s University Health Services to offer campus abortion services to students.

Since then, the resolution has taken the form of a state Senate bill, written by co-directors of Students United for Reproductive Justice, or SURJ, Adiba Khan, Marandah Field-Elliot and Phoebe Abramowitz. The bill is currently going through the state’s legislative system and passed the state Senate on Jan. 29.

“We live in California, (which) is very friendly towards abortion … but the reality is accessibility is much more of an issue,” Khan said. “Even if people have a right to it, they might still have problems with access.”

She added that it would take about $200,000 to set up the necessary abortion equipment at each public university.

Funding for the bill will not come from taxpayer money, but rather from private donors and companies such as Planned Parenthood, according to UC Berkeley alumnus Alex Huber, a member of Berkeley Students for Life.

Most of the bill’s opposition comes from pro-life groups and legislators, according to Khan. Additionally, she added that the UC system has given a negative formal stance, and UC Berkeley has not given a divisive stance on the bill.

Groups such as Berkeley Students for Life have publicly expressed concerns about the bill on a moral and logistical level. Huber said abortion is immoral at all stages of fetus development because the fetus already has “unique” DNA at conception.

Additionally, Huber claimed that the bill’s language regarding funding raises questions about the affordability for consumers after the private money supply has been depleted.

“This is a missed opportunity to allocate money to resources that benefit mothers, like pregnancy centers and child care services,” Huber said.

According to Abramowitz, the bill’s main goal is to expand access to safe abortions on college campuses.

Students currently face many “unnecessary burdens” in obtaining abortions, Khan said. In addition to the high cost of abortions, she added that students must travel outside the community and are faced with long wait times to get appointments.

“A majority of people who get abortions are the same demographic as college students,” Khan said. “It makes sense to provide all the health services.”

Contact Nathan Chin at [email protected].