Should 'abortion pills' be made available to college students?
Making abortion procedures more accessible. Source: Shutterstock

The California Senate is deliberating on a bill that could see student health centres at the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) offering “non-surgical abortion services”, or what is popularly known as “abortion pills”, to its female students.

If ultimately passed, the oral abortion services could be available to students by Jan 1, 2022, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Proposed by Senator Connie Levya, she believes the more than 400,000 female students attending UC and CSU deserve affordable and safe abortion procedures on campus. It will help students from having to travel for hours and thus missing school work, to access reproductive health services.

“This bill is completely about access.” – Leyva.

The oral medication comes in the form of a two-pill dosage of mifepristone and misoprostol that women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant can obtain from a doctor. It works by causing an effect similar to an early miscarriage.

It’s different from the popular over-the-counter emergency contraception, also known as the “morning-after pill”, which is supposed to be taken before a pregnancy occurs. These are already available at all California public college health centres, according to ABC10.

Students, like UC Berkeley senior Adiba Khan, said the bill can help reduce the stigma associated with abortion.

Adiba, who helped start the campus group Students United for Reproductive Justice, said:

“Offering abortion care on campus means students can get care wherever we live or go to school.”

While the Women’s Foundation of California has announced that they will sponsor the costs of the law as part of a campaign, anti-abortion advocacy group Californians for Life is among those opposing the bill.

“There is no lack of access,” Wynette Sills, the organization’s director said. Each public university is on average only less than six miles from the nearest medical abortion provider, she claims.

“Senator Leyva’s bill is all about abortion, abortion and more abortion rather than addressing the needs of housing and scholarships and adjustable exam schedules and all of those concerns that a young woman would have,” Sills said.

Sills suggests that the bill should instead focus on making providers improve access to safe abortion procedures, such as providing Uber rides from campus, having longer opening hours or opening on Saturdays “rather than creating a legislative mandate upon our university systems that are poorly equipped”.

“These student health centres are basically first aid centres with oftentimes just the basic medical infrastructure,” Sills said.

The Sacramento Bee notes that the bill would also ensure student health centre employees are properly trained and have the right equipment for the medication abortion procedures.

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