The California bill SB 320—also known as the “College Student Right to Access Act”—would have required the state’s 34 public universities with student health centers to provide abortion pills on campus to more than 400,000 female students by January 1, 2022. California would have been the first state to require access to chemical abortions on campus, which would have made SB 320—which shows reckless disregard for young women—model legislation for the rest of the country. This bill was sponsored by state Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) in conjunction with The Women’s Foundation of California, a publicly-funded liberal feminist organization that has succeeded in getting 32 of their sponsored bills signed by the governor.
Though SB 320 passed the senate and state assembly, Governor Jerry Brown thankfully vetoed this disastrous legislation just yesterday. In explaining his veto, Governor Brown observed that having to commute a few miles off-campus for an abortion is not an inconvenience for students.
SB 320’s title deceptively includes “right to access” language despite the fact that there is no proof that female students do not have access to abortion in California. In fact, California has more than 500 abortion providers, and abortion is covered by student health insurance plans and the state’s medical assistance program, Medi-Cal. Under Obamacare, students can remain on their parent’s health plans—all of which in California cover abortions.
Here are five serious flaws with SB 320 we should be aware of when this issue comes up again:
- University student health center are not equipped to handle the liability involved in providing on-campus abortions. SB 320 does little to resolve the liability concerns for universities, who will be forced to be directly involved in providing abortions. Potential complications that can arise from taking the abortion pill range from excessive bleeding and infection to an incomplete abortion requiring surgery and even death. Also not addressed in the bill are admitting privileges to nearby hospitals or emergency assistance in case the young women experience a complication.
- No verification of the unborn baby’s gestational age is required. These college health centers do not have ultrasound equipment, which are vitally important to determine the unborn baby’s gestational age and in order to diagnose the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. This poses the very real danger of young women self-administering the abortion pill too late in the pregnancy, thereby increasing their chance of experiencing physically hazardous complications.
- No pre-abortion counseling is offered. It is disturbingly common for a young woman who is pregnant to feel pressure from the father of her child as well as her family to abort, especially in abusive situations. Will college health centers be able to determine if women are being pressured or forced to have an abortion? A study published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons found that over 73 percent of women who have had abortions admitted that they experienced at least subtle forms of pressure to abort their babies.
- There is no requirement to inform women of the health risks of taking the abortion pill. College health centers that dispense the abortion pill are not required to inform the young women of all the risks and complications that can result from ingesting the drug, unlike abortion clinics in a number of states that are required to. This begs the question: will there be counseling provided for a woman who may undergo shock and trauma in her dorm room at the sight of her abortion?
- The bill’s funding mechanism is purposefully vague. SB 320 claims that it will rely on private funding until 2021, but this ignores the fact that a school clinic’s overhead is paid by taxpayers, and the language of the bill leaves open the possibility of taxpayer-funded abortion after 2021 by providing no safeguard to prohibit state funds or student fees from paying for the ongoing support of this program. Public funding of abortion is something that a majority of Americans strongly oppose. According to a recent Marist poll, 60 percent of Americans strongly oppose the use of their tax dollars to pay for abortions. With already-skyrocketing college tuition costs, students and parents will be less than enthusiastic about student fees being raised, especially if those fees go towards abortion-inducing pills.
While California schools are going out of their way to provide abortions to female students who may be pregnant, the bill does nothing to fortify access to knowing their rights under Title IX, if they choose to keep their baby. All public and private schools, school districts, colleges, and universities receiving any federal funds must comply with Title IX which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex—including pregnancy and parental status in educational programs and activities. A student has the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights if they believe their school has violated this federal law. To learn more about how Title IX protects you from discrimination at school if you are pregnant or parenting, go here.
Stay tuned for more on this topic from Family Research Council.