What You Need to Know About California's New Abortion Bill

California, which has typically been on the forefront of civil rights, is again ahead of the game. Last year, California State Senator Connie Levya proposed Senate Bill 320, a bill that would require all schools in the CSU and UC systems to provide the abortion pill during the first ten weeks of pregnancy to those that request it.

According to the bill, “all California public university campuses have on-campus student health centers, but none of these health centers currently provide abortion by medication techniques.” This will mean a 100% turn-around for state schools and create easier abortion access for thousands of young women.

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According to the co-founder of Students United for Reproductive Justice, Adiba Khan, state schools offer eighteen different types of contraceptives. Clearly, preventative measures are important in the school system, so it seems natural to integrate abortion into state sponsored universities to further reproductive rights.

Medication abortions involve two chemicals, mifepristone and misoprostol, which stop progesterone, a hormone required for pregnancy, thereby causing an early onset miscarriage. The bill does not include surgical abortions, which other resources offer after the first term of a pregnancy. Though SB 320, and abortion in general, have received pushback from pro life groups, the medication abortions that would be provided are extremely safe. In Menaka Wilhelm’s NPR article, California Bill Would Mandate On-Campus Access To Abortion Pills, she states, “study of more than 50,000 abortions provided between 2009 and 2010 found that 0.31 percent of medicated abortions resulted in major complications.”

SB 320 will be especially helpful to students who might not have had easy access to other resources such as planned parenthood. An article by Billy Kobin and Alexei Koseff written in the Sacramento Bee sights that “Half of all students across both systems [UC and CSU] come from low-income families, according to a UC San Francisco report.” This could easily result in less access to resources or funding for an abortion, making SB 320 all the more pertinent. The state system should be taking care of those potentially most at risk.

It is especially relevant to college students given that a Bustle article by Monica Hunter-Hart entitled "How California's SB 320 Abortion Bill Could Change Students' Lives Forever" cites that “A 2016 report from the Guttmacher Institute found that 8.2 percent of abortion patients in 2014 were between the ages of 18-19, and 33.6 percent were aged 20-24. That same year, 24 percent of patients were currently enrolled in school.” College students should be one of the groups most aware of abortion law and how it affects them, given the large percentage of students who receive abortions. SB 320 is necessary for the reproductive rights of young women, and this bill is essential given how many women it will affect.

Passing this bill will be monumental to women in California, but it will also set a precedent for other states. According to Hunter-Hart, “A 2015 survey from the American College Health Association looked at 152 educational institutions across the country and found that only 2 of them, or 1.3 percent, provided on-site medical abortions.” This is a nationwide issue that states beyond California need to address.

Recent years have seen a large pushback from conservatives, including pro-life groups, which is why it is a necessity this bill passes. Reproductive rights give women freedom in all aspects of their lives; this is essential for young women in school who have yet to settle into any career path. This bill needs to pass as a sign that we support the women in our lives, and their rights to their own bodies and to freedom. California needs to again lead the way in women’s rights and show that we support those who need it most.