California just took abortion protection one step further.
Following the codification of abortion in the November elections, Senate Bill 24 (SB 24) expands abortion pill accessibility for college students.
“This is the first bill that is mandating something like this across all the UC and CSU campuses,” said Winnie Xu, a UCLA third-year who serves as co-founder and co-director of the Preserve Abortion Access California Task Force (PAACT), which focuses on abortion access advocacy.
As of Jan. 1, all on-campus healthcare centers at each of the 23 UC and CSU campuses are required to provide the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol to enrolled students due to the recently implemented SB 24.
“I think it’s great to see [the CSU and UC systems] supporting people who can get pregnant and their right to choose,” said Haley*, a fourth-year at UC Santa Cruz.
Before SB 24, if a student wanted an abortion, they’d have to get a referral from their student health center, go through the tedium of finding an accessible abortion clinic, and figure out if the clinic took their insurance. Even if the procedures were covered, there was still the issue of patient confidentiality for those on family insurance plans.
“I feel like it’d be kind of a hassle for a lot of students who aren’t from Santa Cruz to find somewhere in network, so [SB 24] being [offered] at school would be more accessible and private,” said Emily*, a fourth-year at UC Santa Cruz.
SB 24 now also simplifies the process of requesting an abortion at a university health center. The Medical Director of the Cowell Student Health Center (SHC) at UCSC, Elizabeth Miller, said that students who require these services who are less than 10 weeks pregnant just need to call and schedule an appointment.
“If the student is a good candidate for this procedure, they are counseled on options, risks, side effects,” continued Miller. “If they choose to continue, we perform lab tests and an ultrasound and then go from there.”
Students who are more than 10 weeks pregnant would not be eligible for a medical abortion at their respective on-campus student health centers. At that point, they would require a surgical abortion, which has to be administered by a licensed physician.
This bill is also of great significance for many students at campuses like CSU Bakersfield or CSU Stanislaus, located in parts of California where safe abortions are not as easily accessible. For students at CSU Stanislaus, the nearest abortion clinic is 14 miles away.
“While California is a safe haven for abortion and reproductive justice, many of the campuses are located in abortion deserts. It is often an inconvenience for students to travel outside of their campus to access abortion services or just reproductive health services in general,” said Xu.
Students at CSUs and UCs alike can rest assured that they can safely and privately obtain a medical abortion. According to Xu, the next step is increasing awareness so more students can know about this resource.
“We want to get the news out there to the students that this is something [their health centers] can offer,” said Xu. “The more people that know about this service [and] the more people that will access it, the better.”
*These sources preferred to withhold their full names.