California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill on September 30 that would have made all University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) campuses provide medication abortions for students.
If Senate Bill (SB) 320 had been signed, it would have required campus health centers to provide the medication abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol, which can be taken within 10 weeks to terminate a pregnancy.
“This week we watched while powerful institutions, and specifically the white men who run them, repeatedly denigrated and ignored the lived experiences of women’s sexual assault in favor of protecting their own power,” said Adiba Khan, Co-Founder of Berkeley Students United for Reproductive Justice, in a press release. “And so, it is particularly unconscionable that Gov. Jerry Brown chose to turn his back on students’ experiences and instead hide behind bogus claims to deny increased access to abortion.”
In his veto message, Brown said abortion services are “widely available off-campus” and believes that five to seven miles is a reasonable distance for students to travel for abortions. According to the UC San Francisco research group Advancing New Standards In Reproductive Health, a majority of students have to travel at least 30 minutes to access abortion services.
“These barriers disproportionately harm students of color, low-income students, and first-generation college students. Abortion care on campus would have given vital support to the students who need it the most,” said Rocío González, a Fellow at Women’s Policy Institute.
Brown’s decision to veto follows his previous decisions to not fund or expand health programs on campus. He removed funds for campus mental health care from the most recent state budget and vetoed a 2017 bill that would have created a grant program to fund campus mental health services.
“In the months and years ahead, I will continue fighting to make sure that college students have access to medication abortion on college campuses,” Senator Connie Leyva, the bill’s author, said in a statement. “I am hopeful that our incoming Legislature and Governor will agree that the right to choose isn’t just a slogan, but rather a commitment to improving true access to abortion for students across California.”
Ethan Coston is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books