An Associated Students Inc. Senate resolution that would support on-campus abortions passed by a narrow margin Wednesday, despite objection from the campus Student Health Services.
The resolution would allow Lobby Corps, a branch of ASI that supports legislation, to back Senate Bill 24 which would require all California State Universities and University of California schools to provide on campus abortions by 2023.
A motion made to remove the controversial bill from the resolution was narrowly struck down 7-9-3 before the final vote of 11-5-3.
Dr. Jessica Simpson, an OB-GYN and clinician at the campus health center said during the meeting that the campus is ill equipped for medical complications.
“This bill is not arguing whether people are pro-life or pro-choice,” Simpson said. “It is simply about whether or not we can provide these services at CSUs.”
Simpson added that LBSU is not associated with a hospital and lacks the medical equipment and trained personnel to carry out abortions.
“To begin with, we can’t even confirm that patients even have an intrauterine pregnancy here,” she said.
Jessy Rosales of the Women’s Foundation of California disagreed with Simpson’s assertion that the college is ill-prepared.
“There is a lot of false information about the bill,” she said. “This bill is about providing access to your rights as a student and as a person.”
Rosales said the bill comes with funds to upgrade the health center with new equipment as well as funds for training.
Outside the meeting, Simpson’s concerns were not assuaged by Rosales’s statements. Simpson was concerned about complications that could arise from abortions that did not go as planned.
“We are not affiliated with a hospital … at this particular facility, we do not have the capability to follow through with this,” Simpson said.
Simpson also mentioned that there are a lack of people trained to carry out the procedure.
“I’m the only gynecologist in the facility,” she said. “There are only four doctors and one is a psychiatrist … so you’re talking about only one person who is trained to even perform these procedures.”
Simpson said that in order to comply with the bill, the college would have to make renovations that would “build a planned parenthood inside the health center.”
The Senators deliberation on SB 24 and the resolution as a whole continued for over 40 minutes as the senators debated support for it.
Sen. Matthew Major asked if the bill would increase accessibility if the facilities were not equipped for complications.
Similarly, Sen. Robert Martinez worried the bill was incomplete and proposed to strike it from the resolution.
ASI Executive Director Richard Haller cautioned the senators about supporting the bill.
“I’m hearing a lot of questions … but I’m not hearing a lot of answers,” he said. “If I were in your shoes, I would table this until I had someone from the student health center talk to me … this is a big decision.”
Senate Vice President Leen Almahdi spoke about passing the resolution in a timely fashion.
“We really wanted to pass this resolution by today because as you all know we wanted to bring this to the California Higher Education Student Summit orientations that will be happening on saturday,” Almahdi said.
The bill did have its stalwart defenders on the senate, with Senators Michelle Fukuda and Anisah Ullah vocally defending it.
“There are other schools out there that need this,” Ullah said, pointing out that many students don’t have as easy of access to health services as LBSU students.
Despite the debate, the resolution ultimately passed with SB 24 intact.
For many of the detractors of the bill, the issue was not medical, but moral.
Senior accounting major Michael Constable spoke out during the meeting.
“I beg you to see clearly this is an issue of murder,” Constable said. “Do you dare to be in this category of, ‘I know it looks like a human, but it’s a black man,’ or, ‘I know it looks like a human, but it’s a Jew,’ do you want to go into the annals of history saying, ‘I know it looks like a human but it’s a clump of cells?’”
Outside the meeting, junior English major Rachel Haering and president of the LBSU chapter of students for life reacted to the ruling.
“I can’t say I was surprised, I expected this outcome,” she said. “I am encouraged that many of the senators, even those who are pro abortion, recognized the lack of clarity in this bill.”
She added that certain senators overlooked key information in their decision and claimed it was based more in their personal politics than what would be best for the students, citing Simpson’s statements.
The resolution’s passage will allow Lobby Corps to support the bill as it moves through the California Senate, meaning that even though it passed at LBSU, it still has many legislative hurdles before its implementation.
The next ASI Senate meeting will take place March 6 at 3:30 p.m. in USU 234.
A correction was made to change the date of the upcoming ASI Senate meeting.