A legislative proposal that passed through the state Senate Health Committee in April requires all public universities in California to provide abortion counseling and abortion by medication to students. If the bill passes, students attending public universities in California will be able to receive a two-pill dosage of mifepristone and misoprostol up to 10 weeks after the first day of their last menstrual cycle.
Introduced by Sen. Connie Leyva, Senate Bill 320 (SB 320) has the potential to affect the student health centers of 146 public colleges and universities across California if the bill passes.
“I think that it’s incredibly important because women of all ages, especially young women, need to make sure they have control over their future – that they have a choice of when they want to incorporate a family into their lives,” Leyva said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee.
Sophia Yen, clinical associate professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Stanford, agreed with Levyn.
“It’s important that young people be given all their options and certainly the state of California’s public schools should be able provide those services if necessary,” Yen said. “If [schools] do [obstetrics] services, they definitely should do these services.”
The current practice for most public universities is to refer students considering abortion to off-campus facilities. Supporters of the bill argue that forcing a student to an off-campus location to receive an abortion causes unnecessary financial loss and emotional shock.
“Women who want the choice of medication abortion [as opposed to] surgical abortion should be able to access it,” Yen said. “It would be interesting to encourage them to provide these services at student health, so students don’t have to travel off campus.”
Jim Jacobs, executive director at Vaden Health Center, declined to comment on how or whether such a bill might affect medical practice at Stanford.
Currently, multiple facilities on campus offer reproductive care for students. Vaden Health Center offers a variety of services such as cervical cancer screenings, contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Stanford’s Division of Family Planning and Research also provides students with medication abortions as well as the option of terminating pregnancy up to 24 weeks.
The Senate Education Committee plans to continue its review of SB 320. If passed, the bill will officially be enacted in January 2020.
Contact Nicole Chen at 19nicolec ‘at’ students.harker.org and Angele Yang at angeleyanghmd ‘at’ gmail.com.