A week or two to book the appointment. Fifty-five to 90 minutes of transit one way. An average of two hours of wait time upon arrival. Time for the appointment itself. This is the current experience for UC and California State University students trying to obtain a medication abortion, a time-intensive, emotionally taxing process that can be challenging — or even impossible — for students juggling hectic schedules.
SB 320, a state bill that would require on-campus access to medication abortion in public universities, could completely change this from an experience that takes weeks to coordinate to something that could be completed in a matter of days.
For thousands of students enrolled in California public universities who could face unwanted pregnancies, SB 320 could be the difference between finishing college and dropping out.
The bill has passed the state Assembly and the Senate. Only one hurdle remains before SB 320 becomes a law — Gov. Jerry Brown needs to sign the bill.
This bill began as a student movement, when Adiba Khan, Marandah Field-Elliot and Phoebe Abramowitz — UC Berkeley students and members of Students United for Reproductive Justice — first drafted the language. Since then, students across the state have been fundamental in keeping the momentum alive, pushing for access to these crucial services.
Abortion is a constitutional right in this country, despite the best efforts of some political leaders. Unwanted pregnancy can be detrimental to an individual who is in the process of getting through college. Students who decide to terminate their pregnancy should have reasonable access to that service. This bill is another step toward ensuring that all people have equal access to continuing their education.
The UC system has expressed support for the bill but also some concerns. UC spokesperson Claire Doan previously told The Daily Californian that the university is worried the bill does not “provide adequate funding to support UC’s student health centers for medication abortion services on site.”
But the cost of implementation for SB 320 is already fully covered. The Women’s Foundation of California, the Tara Health Foundation and a consortium of other private donors have agreed to provide all the necessary funding, and student fees will not be used to cover the costs of implementing this service.
Perhaps the university should instead consider how it will ensure that students are protected from potential backlash they could face because of this bill. UC Berkeley has been the site of volatile protests in the past. Although the bill won’t be implemented until 2022, the campus should be prepared to protect its students from any unwarranted violence and anger.
With rallies, signatures and direct action, California’s students have made their demands for reproductive health clear. The UC and CSU systems are some of the country’s largest four-year public university systems — this bill has the ability to lead the way for reproductive justice on college campuses.