A Major Victory in California!

by Giulietta Wertz-Best

Just CareSACRAMENTO, Calif. January 29,2018 Today the California State Senate made history by approving the College Student Right to Access Act! Championed by our Women’s Policy Institute fellows and our grant partners, SB320 was introduced by State Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) and would require all California public universities to provide the abortion pill at student health centers.

The bill now goes to the Assembly and then hopefully to the Governor’s desk for his signature. If passed, implementation will be ensured by a consortium of funders including the Women’s Foundation of California, the Tara Health Foundation, and others. 

We are proud to co-sponsor this legislation along with our grant partners ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, ACT for Women and Girls, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. We are grateful to Adiba Khan, co-founder of Students United for Reproductive Justice at UC Berkeley, and student leaders who are part of the JustCare campaign on campuses across the state.

SB320 has widespread popular support: a poll released earlier this month by Change Research found that seven in ten women in California support such legislation, and nearly two-thirds (64%) of all California voters say students should be able to access the abortion pill at student health centers.

The data makes it clear: Californians agree that once a student has decided to end a pregnancy, they shouldn’t be forced to go off campus to see a provider they don’t know. Two additional studies supported by our campaign and conducted by the University of California San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health found that 62% of the students surveyed wait an average of a week for their first appointment at public university campus health centers and spend on average two or more hours on public transportation to access this safe and effective option for ending a pregnancy in the first ten weeks. One of the studies also found that the student health centers are well equipped to provide the abortion pill.

The funding consortium will ensure funds are available to all public universities, and any community college that agrees to participate, to pay for equipment, training, payor support, and facility safety assessment. Removing the time and cost barriers that create hardships for our students who wish to terminate a pregnancy will allow them to focus on their grades, futures, and participating in building a stronger California.

An Op-Ed by the Women’s Foundation of California’s Campaign Manager, Dey Nava, highlights why and how this legislation can improve quality of life, wellness, and academic success for campus students in the Golden State. The bill and the Foundation’s role in championing it were also featured on NPR and Refinery 29 among many other news outlets showcasing the national significance of the legislation.

If we are successful in passing this bill, California would be the first state in the nation to provide medication abortion through student health centers at publicly funded universities. And other states might follow because we all know the saying: “As goes California, so goes the nation.”

If you are uplifted by today’s historic vote, please help us to ensure that it moves successfully through the Assembly and on to the Governor’s desk for his signature by making a gift to the Women’s Foundation of California. Our continued success depends on your support.


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