California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 24, or The College Student Right to Access Act, into law today—mandating that public universities in California provide medication abortion at their student health centers.
No California public university health centers currently provide abortion services, which created major barriers to access for students. Over two-thirds of University of California students and one-third of California State University students don’t have a car, and 22 of these campuses across the state, which accommodate 62 percent of the student body in the system, are more than 30 minutes away from the closest off-campus abortion provider via public transportation. Low-income students were hit hardest by these gaps in access, as were many students of color and first-generation students.
Now, studies show that an estimated 322 to 519 college students each month in the state who seek to terminate a pregnancy will be able to receive their care on campus.
Feminist students in the Golden State led the fight to expand access on campus. Students at UC Berkeley conceived of the law after passing a similar resolution in the student government on their campus. When former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the same measure last year, they weren’t deterred.
This year, Feminist Majority Foundation student groups organized for months alongside a coalition of organizations under the JustCARE Campaign umbrella to support SB 24. FMF groups passed resolutions on their campuses to support abortion access, attended legislative hearings at the state Capitol in Sacramento and rallied in front of the UC Board of Regents meeting to get them to stand in support with their students.
“It’s empowering to see how young people are actively fighting to expand abortion access,” Feminist Majority Foundation Campus Organizer Emily Escobar told Ms. “By providing resources and a platform for our students, I witnessed their drive to make sure that all students have access to reproductive healthcare services.”
Other California organizations involved in the JustCARE Campaign included NARAL: Pro-Choice California, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, ACCESS: Women’s Health Justice, ACCESS: Women’s Health Justice, Act for Women and Girls and ACLU California.
This law makes California the first state in the country to ever require medication abortion access on campus—but Massachusetts lawmakers are now considering a similar bill. “We are setting an important precedent in expanding abortion access,” Escobar said. “We hope California will only be the first of many states to follow.”