Access to affordable abortion pill under Californian bill

Abortion by medication is on its way to being available to students at California State and University of California campuses; community colleges such as Skyline College could be next.

Senate Bill 320 proposed by California Senator Connie Leyva would mandate access to the abortion pill at public colleges and universities by Jan 1, 2022. The legislation has gained momentum with the Senate’s approval on Jan 29, but the bill still has a long way to go. It must be passed by the state assembly and then signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to officially become a law.

California is leading the way in providing comprehensive reproductive health care at its 34 public colleges and universities by ensuring affordable access to the abortion pill at all campus health centers. Sen. Leyva’s progressive proposal expanding the campus health centers’ access to this controversial medication is one step closer to becoming law. Conversely, other states, such as Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi, passed legislation making it harder to administer the abortion pill.

This bill has potential to directly affect Skyline College if the mandate is extended to community colleges.

Health centers at almost every public four-year college and university provide reproductive health care services to its students. Skyline’s Health Center provides, Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive for $15 and free condoms at the door. In order to properly administer this medication, campus health centers would need to improve its facilities and thoroughly educate the staff.

“If a UC, CSU or CCC already have a student health center, it makes sense that they provide this healthcare service within that facility,” states the Senate Bill 320 analysis.”It is important that college students have access to safe and reliable reproductive health care on campus which should include early pregnancy termination.”

Controversy surrounded Senate Bill 320, with the majority of opponents of the bill being private pro-life organizations. Their main concerns are staff training and equipment adequacy. However, the bill’s implementation will be funded by a group of organizations including the Women’s Foundation of California and will cover facilities and staff training.

Providing abortion by medication to their students is a large responsibility. Along with being able to handle physical side effects that include abdominal pain, cramping and vaginal bleeding campus health centers must also be able to provide the mental health support that is essential after an aborted pregnancy.

“College health centers would be equipped to administer the abortion pill, but education of the side effects is key.” According to MaryAnn Velasco a registered nurse working in women’s health and instructor of nursing California State University, Fresno. “Every woman has an emotional connection with being pregnant and every woman is going to respond in a different way.”

Although the current legislation does not have community colleges included within the bill, the possibility of later including additional campuses to administer abortion by medication could affect Skyline and the other community colleges in California.

“It would be a great thing for them to use and not have to go to the clinic,” said Patrick Yao an engineering student at Skyline College, “It will be a positive thing for the students.”

Having this pill available on campus will be an important resource to women who may not be comfortable going to an unfamiliar place to receive the abortion medication. The abortion pill offered on campus will be affordable, breaking the financial barrier that may inhibit students from paying for these services elsewhere.

“Students accessibility to the pill on campus is positive, due to the stigma around abortion.” said Skyline College student Jennifer Enerio, who works in substance abuse and transgender care at various non-profit clinics in San Francisco. “This availability will allow students more privacy and efficiency when receiving abortion by medication.”

Senate Bill 320 will have a lasting impact on health care services provided on public California Colleges and Universities, but it is uncertain how the rest of the campuses nationwide will respond to this law.