The state of California could be about to pass into law a bill requiring university clinics to offer abortion pills to students.
The bill, known as SB 24, was introduced in December by State Senator Connie Leyva, and while other states worked to restrict access to abortions, SB 24 made its way through California’s legislature.
The state senate passed the bill on Friday, September 13, and all that remains is for Governor Gavin Newsom to sign it for SB 24 to become law. Newsom pledged to sign similar legislation during his campaign, so the bill is expected to go through.
— Campus Action for Reproductive Equity (@justcareca) September 13, 2019
The bill states, as per CNN:
The state has an interest in ensuring that every pregnant person in California who wants to have an abortion can obtain access to that care as easily and as early in pregnancy as possible.
In a statement, Sen. Leyva added:
In a time when states across our country are rolling back women’s health care and access to abortion, California continues to lead the nation to protect every individual’s right to choose. SB 24 reaffirms the right of every college student to access abortion care.
College students that wish to end their pregnancy should have the right to access that service on campus without delay
The bill will mean all 32 campuses of the University of California and California State University offer abortion pills to students who request them by 2023.
Just passed in the Assembly on a 44-15 vote – #SB24
Would require public California universities to provide "the abortion pill" through campus clinics as a medical service.
— Capitol Alert (@CapitolAlert) September 13, 2019
According to Leyva, allowing students to have access to abortion medication means they won’t have to ‘choose between delaying important medical care or having to travel long distances or miss classes or work.’
The bill states that, if it becomes law, the initiative would be funded by: ‘nonstate entities, including, but not necessarily limited to, private sector entities and local and federal government agencies.’
According to the bill, there are more than 400,000 female students at California’s state university campuses.
Fact: Students struggle to access abortion. Friday's passage of #SB24 means we’re closer than ever to #AbortionCareOnCampus and it’s time for Governor @GavinNewsom to sign this bill now! pic.twitter.com/2UBRye23BJ
— Campus Action for Reproductive Equity (@justcareca) September 16, 2019
Zoe Murray, a University of California, Santa Barbara alumni and campaigner for the abortion pill being made available on campuses, told Newsweek:
Senate Bill 24 will destigmatize abortion care by creating space for students to discuss their experiences openly with providers that we already know and trust. Importantly, it will also allow for a conversation to arise amongst students themselves.
Of course, not everyone was in favour of the bill. Jaime Soto, the Diocese of Sacramento Bishop and president of the California Catholic Conference, called the bill an ‘unprecedented intrusion’ on college campuses, and said it would ‘indoctrinate young people’ to the ‘ideology of abortion’.
Last year, former California governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill. At the time, current governor Newsom said he would have signed it.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.