State Sen. Connie Leyva to reintroduce bill requiring abortion pills to be offered on public university campuses

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Michael Drummond/File

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State Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, will reintroduce a bill that would require abortion pills to be offered on public university campuses in California on Monday during the first day of the state Senate’s session.

SB 320, which originally passed through the California Legislature in 2018, was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. In a Sept. 30 press release, Brown said the average distance from college campuses to outside abortion centers is sufficiently small that resources on campus are “not necessary.”

“It’s extremely important to women’s health, it’s extremely important to woman’s choice, and for him, a man, to decide what women can do with their bodies was just very disappointing,” Leyva said about Brown’s veto. “I felt that all women everywhere were disrespected with his veto message.”

Many women on college campuses may not have the means or access to transportation to get the medical help they need outside of campus, according to Leyva. She added that the pills, a form of medical abortion, are “extremely safe” and far less invasive than a surgical abortion.

Medical abortion must be taken within 10 weeks of a woman’s first day of her last menstrual cycle, according to Planned Parenthood. Leyva said most women do not know they are pregnant until about six weeks into pregnancy, so it is important for women to be able to simply “walk across campus” and get the pill when they need it.

Both Leyva and ASUC External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP, Nuha Khalfay voiced their hope that the reintroduced bill will be signed by incoming Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Newsom said he would have supported the original bill.

“If and when the bill is introduced the EAVP will advocate for it at every step of the legislative process,” Khalfay said in an email, adding that she was “very excited” to see the bill reintroduced.

The original bill came into being through the activism of several current and former UC Berkeley students — it was drafted by Adiba Khan, Marandah Field-Elliot and Phoebe Abramowitz, members of the student group Students United for Reproductive Justice. Leyva, who authored and introduced SB 320, said she feels the bill is in “really good shape” and will not be altered before reintroduction.

Leyva added that funding for the bill is “absolutely there.” It provides a grant of $200,000 to be given to each public university student health center for “medical abortion readiness” procedures such as purchasing equipment. The California State University system and the UC system would each get an additional grant of $200,000 for services including 24-hour over-the-phone assistance for medical abortions.

“California has always been a leader, and why shouldn’t we be a leader in women’s rights as well?” Leyva said. “We need to say to the rest of the country that we value women, we respect women, and they need to choose what to do with respect to their own body.”

Contact Boyce Buchanan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @BuchananBoyce.