California bill deems abortion a 'constitutional right'
California lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would require every public university in the state to provide students with abortion pills on demand.
“Abortion care is a constitutional right,” begins SB 320, which would require every California “public university student health center to offer abortion by medication techniques.”
State Senator Connie Leyva, a former labor organizer, introduced the bill in February, and after a series of amendments, it passed the Senate Health Committee in April, but then languished for the remainder of the year with no further action.
After being further amended to broaden its scope, SB 320 passed the Senate Education Committee Wednesday in a party line vote, and is now awaiting consideration by the Appropriations Committee.
The current version of the bill gives all University of California and California State University student health centers until January 1, 2022 to offer “abortion by medication techniques,” which The Sacramento Bee describes as a medicinal cocktail of mifepristone and misoprostol, which induces an abortion resembling an early miscarriage.
In its opening section, SB 320 asserts that “it is central to the mission of...student health centers to minimize the negative impact of health concerns on students’ studies and to facilitate retention and graduation,” noting the there are “more than 400,000 students classified as female” enrolled in California’s public universities.
“The state has an interest in ensuring that every pregnant person in California who wants to have an abortion can obtain access to that care,” the bill declares. “When pregnant young people decide that abortion is the best option for them, having early, accessible care can help them stay on track to achieve their educational and other aspirational life plans.”
The bill reveals that no public university student health centers currently provide abortion by medication, which it calls “extremely safe, highly effective, and cost effective,” and bemoans the “hours of travel” that some students must undergo in order to procure an abortion.
Despite professing that access to medicated abortion is a fundamental interest of the state SB 320 does not allocate any state funding for implementation of its mandate, instead relying on a “Medication Abortion Implementation Fund” that is authorized to collect “private monies” from “nonstate entities,” including “private sector entities and local and federal government agencies.”
The bill authorizes the state’s Treasurer to disburse grants from the fund to cover the direct and indirect costs of implementing medicated abortion at public universities, while also allowing discretion to award grants to offset the direct costs of voluntary implementation at “other public and private postsecondary institutions.”
In order to “develop the objectives and priorities” of the Fund, SB 320 would also establish a “Medication Abortion Implementation Advisory Council” staffed exclusively by abortion advocates and practitioners.
The council would have at least nine members, including two from “California nonprofit organizations providing supportive services to individuals seeking abortions,” three “scientists or clinicians who study or provide abortion by medication techniques,” and two public university staff members or health care providers.
It also mandates that the council include two members “who are currently students at a public university, who have utilized student health services in the past 12 months, and who seek to expand access to abortion by medication techniques on campus.”
Wynette Sills, director of Californians for Life, has blasted the proposal, arguing that it overlooks genuine educational needs in favor of a single-minded commitment to promoting abortion.
“Sen. 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 declared, suggesting that lawmakers instead put pressure on the abortion industry to pay for transportation or expand working hours.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SFarkas48