New bill could require Cal State Fullerton to provide access to abortion pills at the student health center

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that SB 320 would require all CSU, UC and community college campuses with student health centers to carry the abortion pill. Community colleges can opt-in to the program, but are not required to provide the service.

The California Senate passed a bill on Jan. 29 that could require all public universities in the state to provide access to abortion pills in student health centers after Jan. 1, 2022.

The bill, SB 320, also known as the College Student Right to Access Act, was introduced by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino). However, it was initially championed by the Students United for Reproductive Justice group at UC Berkeley in 2015.

The group advocates for pro-abortion rights policies and began to spread awareness after members found out that the student health center on their campus did not offer access to abortions.

The bill would not cover surgical abortions, but would require all CSU and UC campuses with student health centers to provide access to abortion pills and ultrasounds.

The bill will next go to the State Assembly and if passed, will be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown where it can be signed into a law.

At Cal State Fullerton, the Students for Life chapter President Brooke Paz is concerned with the content of the bill. She previously lobbied against SB 320 in December 2017 when Students for Life encouraged members to call their congressional representatives.

Paz said she does agree with providing access to ultrasounds on college campuses, but does not agree that university employees should administer the abortion pill. She said college campuses are not fully equipped to handle any medical emergencies that could result from complications.

The abortion pill is a combination of two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, taken in two doses. Mifepristone is administered by a health care provider and misoprostol is taken up to 48 hours later, typically at home.

Using the pill is considered a safe and viable option to terminate a pregnancy for up to 10 weeks, according to Planned Parenthood. After the first trimester, surgical abortion is recommended.

“I’m concerned that the abortion pill is taken because people don’t want others to know that they are pregnant,” Paz said. “I’m concerned a young woman may take this in the comfort of her dorm without consulting her doctor or anyone but a school employee.”

Dr. Richard Boucher, interim director of Health Services at CSUF, said he believes school practitioners should have the choice to practice medicine that best suits the patient.

“I’m not in favor of being coerced into different styles of practice of medicine that I may or may not think is good for my patient. It’s something I think should be left up to the individual practitioner,” Boucher said.

A study conducted from 2009 to 2010 by UC San Francisco reported that five percent of more than 11,000 abortions resulted in complications.

Although the possibilities of having complications from the abortion pill are low, Boucher said the Student Wellness center does not have the resources to administer to the student if problems were to occur. Instead, they would have to be referred to an outside gynecologist.

“If it’s happening to my patient, it doesn’t matter what the odds are. It’s still happening to that person and it can be scary,” Boucher said.

CSUF graduate assistant Karley White works in the Women and Gender Studies Department, and believes SB 320 would be beneficial to women seeking reproductive services on campus.

She said that for some students, seeking referrals from student health centers to outside entities can be a lengthy process and for women seeking abortion services, the prolonged process can cost time and money.

“What we know about the steps people have to take to get an abortion, it is very interrupting to life,” White said. “Improving reproductive health in any aspect is great, especially on a college campus where that is needed. Access to any of those services is beneficial, especially having it in one place.”

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