Senator Leyva Introduces “College Student Right to Access Act”

Bill Will Ensure Safe On-Campus Access to Early Medical Abortion Services

Friday, March 17, 2017

SACRAMENTO – In order to improve the safe and prompt access to comprehensive reproductive health services for young adult women, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) has introduced legislation to expand medical abortion services on University of California (UC), California State University (CSU) and community college campuses.

Jointly sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of California, ACCESS Women’s Health Justice and ACT for Women and Girls, SB 320 will require UC, CSU and community college campuses with student health centers to provide medical abortion services for students.  The bill will benefit college students who may become pregnant and seek to terminate their pregnancy within the first ten weeks.  Many on-campus student health centers on public colleges already offer reproductive health services, including contraception, pregnancy options counseling and other critical services for both women and men.  Unfortunately, many students seeking early pregnancy termination are not able to receive that health care service on campus.  Some students may have to travel several hours on public transportation to a clinic that provides medical abortion services, pay out of pocket and miss class or work obligations in order to access these constitutionally protected services.

“It is important that college students have access to safe and reliable reproductive health care on campus, including early pregnancy termination.  If a UC, CSU or community college already has a student health center, it makes sense that they provide this health care service within that facility so that students do not have to travel many miles away from their work and school commitments in order to receive care,” Senator Leyva said.  “SB 320 will help to improve the academic success of students and, if a pregnant student wishes, she will be able to receive this health care service with limited financial or logistical barriers.  College aged women should not have to wait additional time or travel long distances when they may have already decided to end their pregnancy.  If she so chooses, the safest time for a woman to end her pregnancy is within the first ten weeks, so I look forward to working with colleagues and stakeholders to safely expand access to reproductive healthcare at community college and public university campuses in California.”

Medication for early pregnancy termination is safe and effective.  Medication is given in two pills. The first pill is taken in the company of the medical provider and the second pill is sent home with the patient to take 24 hours later.  Most patients can return to normal activities within 1-2 days. A follow-up appointment is made for 1-2 weeks after the initial appointment with the provider to confirm successful termination of pregnancy. Medical abortion has a success rate of over 95% and serious adverse events exist in only 0.5% of procedures.

SB 320 sponsor ACCESS Women’s Health Justice—an Oakland-based organization whose network of volunteers provide funding, rides, overnight housing, child-care and translation to people facing barriers to reproductive health care—highlights the importance of this proposed legislation in meeting the health care needs of students.

“We get a lot of calls from students who need help accessing reproductive health care.  Students turn to on-campus health centers for health care, which provide great quality care at low cost.  But for abortion care, students have to travel off campus, sometimes for hours, as many colleges do not have a clinic close by.  SB 320 would remove those barriers to care.  Missing school and work to travel hours to reach a clinic is even harder on low-income or first-generation college students, who are already overcoming obstacles to pursue their dreams.  All students deserve the ability to plan their families and achieve their goals,” said ACCESS Program Director Gabriela Castillo.

SB 320 will be considered in Senate policy committee(s) later this spring.