CSU, News

Senate Bill 320 to bring medication abortion services to all public universities in California

An abortion pill which allows the termination of pregnancies that are less than 10 weeks along, using mifepristone and misoprostol, may soon be offered at public university campuses across California if signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The California State Senate passed SB-320, Aug. 30, a bill that would require all California State University and University of California campuses to offer students access to medication abortions by Jan. 1, 2022. The bill was first introduced by Sen. Connie Leyva in February 2017 and co-authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo.

The bill would also establish a College Student Health Center Sexual and Reproductive Health Preparation Fund. The commission would oversee distribution of all funds in relation to the bill.

A letter from Long Beach State’s Student Health Services revealed strong opposition to SB-320.

“We cannot in good conscience support a policy that could jeopardize the health and safety of our students,” said Kimberly Fodran, chief of medical staff at Student Health Services.

Fodran said their concerns stem from the lack of adequate resources that CSU campuses have to offer such a service.

“The difference is evident between the UCs, which generally are affiliated with residency programs and hospitals, and the CSUs which are not,” Fodran said in an email.

The CSU system and Student Health Services have their fair share of concerns regarding the passage of SB-320. According to Elizabeth Chapin, manager of public affairs for the CSU, one concern administrative members of the university system has is sources of financing for the bill.

“We have worked with the author of the bill and we do have concerns related to how services would be implemented, as well as additional costs to the university,” Chapin said. “The availability of some health-related services varies greatly across the 23 campuses. For example, some CSU campuses have pharmacies built into their health centers while others do not.”

LBSU’s Student Health Services also has concerns regarding possible effects of this medication on students and the university’s ability to handle these possible outcomes.

“In the eight percent of patients where the procedure fails, a surgical procedure will be necessary,” Fodran said. “As an outpatient facility not affiliated with a hospital or on-call service, who would take care of the needs of those patients and follow through with their care?”

The bill, which first originated at UC Berkeley in 2016 has leveraged support from some students.

“I want to know more about the bill, but I do think it’s necessary on college campuses, where many students are sexually active,” said sophomore molecular biology major Perla Alvarado. “With the possibility of organizations like Planned Parenthood being defunded, it’s so important that students can find these services at their own colleges.”

Sana Sethi, social chair for the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Student Association, agreed with Alvarado and believes campus-provided abortion services would help hinder illegal abortions.  

“Since most people don’t find out they’re pregnant until a few weeks in, it doesn’t leave them a lot of time to find a clinic,” Sethi said. “Having these services on campus would, in all honesty, save lives. We know people seek back alley abortions when there is lack of access to safe, legal abortions and it leads to terrible consequences. We need to do everything we can to stop unnecessary deaths from illegal abortions.”

However, Perla and Alvarado both agree that the controversial nature of the bill is likely to receive backlash.

“I do not think tuition should be used to offer these services when they’re already offered elsewhere, off-campus,” said senior electrical engineering major Julie Liner. “Student Health Services should focus on pregnancy prevention, using birth control, rather than termination.”

This story was updated on Sept. 11 to reflect the fact that the bill still awaits on the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown.

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