About 40 UC and CSU students will come together in Sacramento on March 11 to lobby legislators for the College Student Right to Access Act, or Senate Bill 24, introduced by California Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino.
SB 24 requires access to abortion by medication techniques on UC and CSU campuses by 2023. The students who are going to Sacramento will meet with legislators to discuss and answer questions about the bill.
The students lobbying for the bill in Sacramento hope to persuade legislators to be “vocal supporters” of SB 24 and future bills regarding reproductive health and availability, according to executive member of Students United for Reproductive Justice and student lobbyer, Noël Jones.
“I think it’s important that every single voice in a democracy is heard and all of our opinions matter and it’s our representative’s job to listen to us and advocate for our needs and our health care rights,” Jones said.
SB 320, a comparable bill that was introduced by Levya in February 2017, was vetoed by Jerry Brown. The bill similarly sought to make access to abortions by medication techniques more accessible for university students. Jones is happy because Gov. Gavin Newsom has publicly stated that he will sign SB 24 if it reaches his desk, said Jones.
Research conducted by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, or ANSIRH, found that UC and CSU students face many barriers in obtaining abortions. Some barriers to timely abortions include limited income, insurance limitations, distance of providers and time, according to ANSIRH. The research estimates that there would be up to 519 medication abortions a month on UC and CSU campuses if the universities offered these services.
Abortion by medication techniques is safe and cost-effective according to SB 24, which states that none of California’s public universities offer abortion by medication techniques, despite having on-campus student health centers.
“It is critically important that we reaffirm the constitutional right of college students to access abortion care without delay, and that should always include student health centers on public university campuses,” said Levya in a press release last December about SB 24.
Women who have children while in college are less likely to graduate, according to ANSIRH’s research. ANSIRH estimates that there are 1,038 abortions a month among UC and CSU students and that about 31 percent of those abortions are medication abortions.
Nuha Khalfay, ASUC External Affairs Vice President “wholeheartedly” supports SB 24, and also supported previous SB 320.
“No student should have to stress about figuring where/how to pay for an abortion with everything else going on in their lives,” Khalfay said in an email. “Access to abortion is a basic medical need.”