UCLA student gov hosts phone bank to demand free abortions
The UCLA student government has come under fire for hosting a phone-banking session encouraging students to lobby for abortion on demand.
“Phone Banking Friday - Week 3: Reproductive Justice,” hosted by the student government’s Office of the External Vice President, brought together roughly two dozen students to call local lawmakers in support of SB320, a new bill that would require all public colleges in California to offer medical abortion services upon request.
“The bill will benefit college students who may become pregnant and seek to terminate their pregnancy within the first ten weeks,” asserts the bill’s press release, arguing that on-campus abortion is more convenient and accessible for busy students.
While Democratic State Senator Connie Leyva introduced the bill, The Daily Californian reports that UC-Berkeley student Adiba Khan spearheaded the effort. In Spring 2016, Khan began lobbying school administrators to provide abortion on-campus, but after her campaign failed, Khan switched tactics, instead working with Leyva to co-author SB 320.
“I’ve always cared about reproductive justice and saw issues to access even in California,” Khan told The Daily Californian after the bill was introduced. “I wanted to be invested in improving the law and access and societal notions toward reproductive rights.”
Though student support for the bill is unknown, the UCLA student government—which claims to “lobby for policies that improve the lives of all Bruins”—has officially endorsed the bill through both the phone-banking event and internal lobbying efforts.
To learn more about this, Campus Reform spoke with student Chloe Pan, who represents more than 40,000 students as the Student Body External Vice President. She explained that her office “serves as the official advocacy arm of our undergraduate student government at UCLA.”
Funded by mandatory student government fees, Pan explained that her office has 14 stipended officers and 43 volunteer staffers, all of whom lobby for policies that are seen to benefit students, most recently: DACA and federal funding for STEM research.
Lobbying in support of on-campus abortion, she told Campus Reform, is just a logical extension of her office’s extensive lobbying work on campus.
“After SB 320 passed the Senate Education Committee, staffers in our office wanted to demonstrate our continued support for the legislation, which spurred the decision to phone bank in support of it,” Pan explained.
“My personal opinion is that all students deserve access to affordable and safe ways of having an abortion,” she added. “If a student is less than ten-weeks pregnant and needs to terminate their pregnancy, they shouldn't have to go off-campus.”
In an interview with Campus Reform, the vice president of UCLA’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter, Arik Schneider, expressed concern that expanding access to abortion without also creating resources for those who choose life could sway pregnant students towards going through with an abortion.
“Rather than ‘help all Bruins,’ abortion on campus would discourage students from taking advantage of outside resources, as it is unlikely UCLA would give pro-life advice to struggling students,” Schneider predicted. “Rather, UCLA would continue to follow in the footsteps of other abortion providers—pushing vulnerable students to get an abortion without providing them the resources for other alternatives.”
Schneider believes that pro-life UC students should lobby against SB 320, but if that isn’t successful, he says campus health clinics should be required to give pregnant students pro-life counseling so they understand all options.
“A pregnancy during college might come as a surprise and a shock, but it should not mean the end of a precious new life,” he added.
Follow the author of this article on Campus Reform: @Toni_Airaksinen