Students at the University of California-Berkeley are pushing for a measure that may bring abortion pills to their campus.
The California Senate approved a bill Jan. 29 requiring the state’s public universities and colleges to offer abortion drugs at their health centers.
Berkeley student group Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ) has been vocal about their support for the legislation. “There’s a bureaucratic burden in addition to … an academic burden, in the sense that students have to miss class for something that they really didn’t need to,” SURJ co-founder Adiba Khan, 21, said according to Mother Jones. Sending students off campus to get abortions means they might have to miss class, which shouldn’t be a reality, she added.
SURJ “aims to raise awareness about other reproductive rights as well, including, but not limited to, birth control, sex education, medical autonomy, and all aspects of social justice that intersect with reproductive rights and healthcare,” according to its website.
Senate Bill 320, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Connie Leyva, requires the state’s community colleges and public universities to provide women with abortion pills for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy so that they don’t have to travel to get the pills.
“What I think is so revolutionary about this, aside from being able to access your rights, is just the fact that this movement is really trying to normalize abortions,” Khan said.
The bill is critical, Leyva told ABC News, because women in college should have the same access to reproductive health care as other women. “Women do not lose the constitutional right to end a pregnancy simply because they are a college student,” Leyva said. She claims the bill is a necessity so that young collegiate women don’t have to foot the cost of abortions themselves or travel long distances to have abortions. (RELATED: California Senate Passes Bill Mandating Abortion Pills On College Campuses)
San Francisco’ s Tara Foundation and an anonymous donor have agreed to cover implementation costs estimated between $14 million and $20 million, ABC reported. “Why shouldn’t women be able to receive this really easy and straightforward service at the place where they receive all their other care?” said Tara Health Foundation president Ruth Shaber.
Other pro-life students however, like those at San Jose State University (SJSU), are unhappy that the already taxpayer-funded colleges would require citizens against abortion to fund those procedures at the state’s public higher education institutions. “It will basically be a recipe for disaster,” Spartans for Life leader Ricky Silva said, according to CBS San Fransisco. “Some [women] have even died as a result of taking the abortion pill.”
“Now imagine a woman taking the pill at her dorm room,” Silva added. (RELATED: California Students Are Fighting To Keep Abortion Pills Off Their Campus)
Advocacy group Californians for Life also expressed displeasure over the proposed measure. “These pills will hurt our daughters and end the lives of our grandchildren by forcefully inducing a miscarriage up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, with hemorrhaging and delivery of the baby into the dorm room toilet,” the group said in a statement.
If signed into law, the bill won’t take effect until 2020, but would also require California’s public university health centers that don’t already offer abortion pills to provide transportation to an abortion facility or to arrange an abortion for students requesting the procedure. The state’s health centers already provide reproductive services like birth control, condoms and STD testing.
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