Roe v. Wade is under fire in many states across the nation. While states like Mississippi and Missouri are legislating regulations that would make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions, California appears to be giving women even more access to abortion.
SB 24 was introduced in December by State Senator Connie Leyva. The bill, also referred to as the College Student Right to Access Act, would require all student health centers on the University of California and California State University campuses to offer nonsurgical abortions.
University health centers currently do not perform surgical abortions and that won’t change with this bill. Non-surgical abortions, or the “abortion pill” as it’s widely known, is what the bill would mandate be available to students. If the bill passes it will be the first of its kind in the US.
Proponents of the bill say access to abortion services can impede a woman’s right to an abortion. Citing the travel and travel costs associated with finding abortion services off-campus as possible impediments to a woman’s right to choose. Also, because non-surgical abortions or medication abortions are time-sensitive and only able to be performed until the tenth week of pregnancy, proponents claim immediate access is necessary for students.
Several women’s groups that support abortion rights have agreed to fund the initial costs of the equipment and staff training. Eventually, the state-funded universities would have to utilize tax dollars to ensure the services could be provided.
Opponents of the bill have several issues. Among them is the use of tax dollars to fund or subsidize abortion. Opponents also argue that the bill is not necessary because access to abortion services is not limited in the state of California. Citing a study that puts the average distance of an abortion clinic approximately six miles from University of California and California State campuses, opponents deem the bill unnecessary and more of a political statement on Roe v. Wade.
While proponents of the bill are hopeful, similar legislation has been introduced in the past and has failed to pass through to law. All eyes remain on California as this unprecedented legislation makes its way through the state’s capital.