CA Gov. Gavin Newsom signs SB 24 to provide medication abortion at CA public universities

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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 24 into law Friday, which will require all student health centers at California public universities to provide medication abortion by 2023.

According to SB 24 co-sponsor and campus alumnus Noël Jones, the funding for services the bill necessitates has been raised from philanthropic donors. These funds will provide student health centers with the medical devices, infrastructure and training needed to administer the abortion pill. In addition, a telemedicine line will be set up to address any complications that may arise.

“We had a great network and a great support system,” Jones said. “We’re all so grateful for each other and for Gavin Newsom to recognize the immense need for this bill.”

Jones said that after Students United for Reproductive Justice, or SURJ, was created in 2015, the organization met with campus administration in an attempt to bring the abortion pill to UC Berkeley.

Although UC Berkeley was unwilling to provide this service at the time, Jones said the Women’s Foundation of California asked SURJ to co-sponsor a bill which later became SB 24.

According to a press release, the abortion pill is a “safe and effective” way to terminate a pregnancy up to ten weeks after fertilization.

The Tang Center currently provides students with the Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP, referrals to in-network providers who supply abortion services, according to University Health Services spokesperson Tami Cate. The costs for these services are covered under SHIP.

“University Health Services is fully committed to implementing the new law and has already begun the planning for offering these services at the Tang Center,” Cate said in an email.

State Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, who authored SB 24, said in the press release that she is “thrilled” that Newsom has upheld the right to abortion access for college students.

External vice president of Berkeley College Republicans and former Daily Californian columnist Rudra Reddy added that the bill exposes the campus to financial and legal liabilities.

“We are greatly dismayed by the signing of this bill,” Reddy said. “We are a pro-life organization and any legislation that furthers the process of killing unborn children is morally abhorrent to us.”

On the flip side, Cal Berkeley Democrats president Sarah Abdeshahian said the organization lobbied for this bill through several letters of support and member advocacy.

Abdeshahian added that she is proud of the students who urged the Tang Center to provide abortions in 2015 and those who have since lobbied for the bill.

“We are so proud of all the students that have organized for this,” Abdeshahian said. “This has truly been a grassroots effort.”

According to Jones, fighting for SB 24 was difficult because of the stigma attached to the subject of abortion. Jones added that the group partnered with nonprofits that work to expand reproductive justice and helped with some of the “legwork” involved.

Jones also said she plans to continue to fight for reproductive equity on campuses.

“We’ve put in so much work,” Jones said. “It was such a labor of love to get this bill passed.”

Maya Akkaraju is a higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maya_akkaraju.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that CA Sen. Connie Leyva is D-San Bernardino. In fact, she is D-Chino.