Students lobby for abortion services at California public universities

Students from 14 different universities lobbied California’s state Assembly on Monday to pass a bill that would force all public universities provide medical abortion services.

State Sen. Connie Leyva introduced the bill, SB 320, last year that would require all health centers within the University of California and California State University systems to provide medication abortion by 2022.

Medication abortions involve two drugs that women can take to terminate a pregnancy less than 10 weeks long, NPR reported.

The measure was inspired by a UC Berkeley student effort in 2016 when a student government passed a resolution urging the school’s health center to provide medical abortion services.

Adiba Khan, author of the resolution, told NPR that she noticed that while her school’s health center offered multiple forms of contraception, it didn’t provide abortion services.

"I was able to meet a few peers who attempted to get an abortion through the student health center, and they faced a lot of hurdles, mostly bureaucratic, before they were able to get an abortion," Khan said.

The bill passed the state Senate earlier this year and will now go through the Committee on Higher Education and the Committee on Health before the Assembly will vote on it.

Nearly 40 students from UC Berkeley, UCLA, Mills College, Humboldt State, Fresno State and other universities gathered in Sacramento to support the bill.

“We want to uplift student narratives and recenter the debate around abortion access,” Phoebe Abramowitz, a Just CARE organizer and co-director of Students United for Reproductive Justice, who helped to write the bill, told the Daily Californian. “Everyone’s learning a lot about the legislative process. It’s exciting to get students from all across the state together.”

“[The bill] will drastically improve access for students who have to go through financial, logistical and institutional barriers,” Marandah Field-Elliot, another Just CARE campus organizer, told the newspaper.

The proponents of the bill claim the abortion services wouldn’t be funded by the state as a private donor pledged to cover all the costs associated with the measure.