A slew of California college kids gathered together Monday to demand the State Assembly accept and pass a bill that would mandate all public universities offer free abortions to any student in their health clinics.
The students hailed from 14 different universities including the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Los Angeles, California State University, Fresno, Humboldt State University and Mills College, according to The Daily Californian.
“The overwhelming majority of students we’ve talked to are in favor,” said Phoebe Abramowitz, the Just CARE organizer and co-director of Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ). “There’s really no other reason, besides stigma, that this should not be a standard.”
The rally comes after the California Senate approved Senate Bill 320 on Jan. 29 requiring the state’s public universities and colleges to offer abortion drugs at their health centers. Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva, the bill requires the state’s community colleges and public universities to provide women with abortion pills for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy so they don’t have to travel to get the pills.
SURJ at UC Berkeley has been vocal about its 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 said, according to Mother Jones.
Khan added that sending students off campus to get abortions means they might have to miss class, which shouldn’t be a reality. (RELATED: California Students Try To ‘Normalize’ Abortion Pills On Campus)
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.
San Francisco’s Tara Health Foundation and an anonymous donor have agreed to cover implementation costs estimated between $14 million and $20 million, ABC News 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, like those at San Jose State University (SJSU), are unhappy 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.” (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 wrote 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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