Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes campus abortion bill with UC Berkeley origins

Ashley Cole/Staff

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Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed SB 320 on Sunday, which would have required student health centers at all public universities in California to provide medical abortion services.

Brown said in a press release that SB 320 was “not necessary” because outside abortion services are “widely available” off campus and within reasonable distances. The bill originated at UC Berkeley, influenced by a 2016 ASUC resolution supporting the implementation of medical abortion services at the Tang Center.

Students United for Reproductive Justice, or SURJ, co-founder Adiba Khan contributed to the ASUC resolution and worked alongside other SURJ members to help write SB 320, authored by state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino.

“I’m so incredibly disappointed in the Governor, and I think it’s yet just another example of old white guys thinking they know what women need,” Leyva said. “For him to say he doesn’t think (the commute is) inconvenient, he just completely missed the whole point of the bill.”

Since its introduction to the state Legislature in February 2017, UC Berkeley students have lobbied both in favor of and against the bill.

SURJ members lobbied at the Capitol in May, and last month, they dropped off a petition with about 15,000 signatures supporting the bill at Brown’s Sacramento office.

“(Brown) ignored so many different stories of women and students who shared experiences of what they have to endure when going off campus,” Khan said. “He’s repeated he’s pro-choice, but when he has the chance to expand rights, he chooses to deny them.”

Khan added that she never thought the bill would get this far and that it has spurred statewide dialogue.

UC Berkeley students have also lobbied against SB 320 — Berkeley Students for Life, or BSL, members protested the bill in Sacramento, at the UC president’s office and on Upper Sproul Plaza, according to BSL co-president Daniel Frise

BSL co-president Tamika Bassman added that the group will continue to communicate the “dangers” surrounding abortion medications so that students know that “abortion is never the only choice.”

UC health centers will continue to provide reproductive services and abortion referrals to nearby facilities, according to UC spokesperson Claire Doan, who said the UC believes students should have access to affordable and convenient reproductive health care.

Leyva said she plans to reintroduce the bill under a different governor next year. Leyva said she does not think the bill will require amendments in order to be approved next year, since SB 320 passed the state Legislature this year.

“I have much higher expectations for us in California to set an example and lead the way,” Leyva said. “It was a setback, but we’re not going anywhere.”

Contact Rachel Barber at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.