What is Senate Bill 24

I was granted the great opportunity a few weeks ago to be able to go to California’s capital and speak in support of Senate Bill 24. The opportunity was granted to me by justCARE California an organization that mobilizes students and is one of the primary supporters of SB 24, a bill all students at UC’s and CSU’s who can become pregnant should be following.

California state SB 24 — the “College Student Right to Access Act” is authored by Senator Connie Leyva, D - Chino, who has worked on several other bills related to high education, and the needs of students. This bill has been adapted from SB 320 which she also authored in 2018, but was vetoed by Governor Brown. The Women's Foundation of California worked with student organizations from college campus to bring the bill to the state level leading to Senator Leyva heading the bill.

Image via JustCARE

The bill would require public university student health centers to offer medication abortions to its students. One of the organizations particularly spearheading its movement through the Senate is JustCARE California. JustCARE California stands for Campus Action for Reproductive Equity and, is sponsored by the Women's Foundation of California. The organization is working to bring students across UC and CSU campus together to rally in support of bringing the abortion pill into their student health centers. The financial aspect of the bill has been already allocated out by private funders and within the bill's language, it ensures the lockdown of these funds to be used to give student health centers the resources to offer medication abortions. Resources span from providing training for giving the pill to training in blood drawing and getting tools such as ultrasounds. Passing of this bill would mean that by January 2023 UC and CSU student health centers would be able to provide their students with access to medication abortions.

Image via JustCARE

My trip to Sacramento was to go speak in support of the bill at the Senate Education Committee which is the committee that Senator Leyva is the chair for. Since Senator Leyva is both the Committee’s chair and the author of the bill, so the hearing was supposed to be run by the vice chair. The vice chair however along with another senator was absent during the hearing as they can come in and out of the hearings as long as they vote by the end of the day.

The structure of the hearing was that it started with Senator Leyva describing the bill she is proposing, and then introduced the witness she had to speak in support of the bill. The two witnesses were Dr. Daniel Grossman and Jessy Rosales. Dr. Grossman is a professor at UCSF who did studies looking at the number of UC students who seek abortions and the roadblocks they face, and Ms. Rosales is a UC Riverside alum who shared her story of receiving an abortion at a UC. After their testimonies, those in support of the bill were able to stand and state their name affiliation and support. After those statements, the opposition's witnesses were allotted the same amount of time to speak as the previous witnesses. The opposition gave all of their time to a single witness Kristan Hawkins who is the president of Students for Life. After that testimonial, those in opposition of the bill were able to stand and do their ‘me too’ statements. The bill at the end went to a vote and passed with five in favor two in opposition.

Image via Becca Rea-Holloway

The bill now moves to Committee on Appropriations which looks at the financial aspect of it. You can follow the movement of the bill through the Senate on justCARE’s website, Facebook or Instagram. Here on campus, you can reach out to groups such as Students for Reproductive Justice for information on the bill and to better understand its implications for UC and CSU students.