A highly controversial bill that would require California public colleges to provide abortion-inducing medication to students is returning to the Legislature in 2018. SB 320 (Leyva, D-Chino) was introduced last year but stalled in the Senate Education Committee. As the Legislature operates on a two-year session schedule, SB 320 is eligible to be brought up again this year and will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on January 10th at the State Capitol.
The proposal would require student centers on California State University (CSU) and University of California campuses to offer abortion-inducing medication or arrange for transportation to a nearby abortion provider. It further requires on-campus health centers to offer abortion counseling services to their students but deliberately excludes pro-life counselling approaches
As a preliminary matter, SB 320 threatens the health of the very college-age women it purports to support.
First, the legislation encourages the provision of abortion-inducing drugs, including the “Abortion Pill,” RU-486. These drugs operate by causing women to have miscarriages during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. These drugs may result in painful and serious medical complications, including hemorrhaging. Moreover, use of these drugs may result in the delivery of fetal remains in students’ homes, dormitory rooms, and public restrooms, placing them at greater risk for complications.
In addition, SB 320 threatens women’s health care by having college health clinics provide chemical abortifacients, something they are ill-equipped to provide. This fact was even acknowledged in the Senate Health Committee analysis of the bill:
It is unclear whether these institutions have the ability to provide these services given how their health centers are set up. In the case of community colleges, most of these health centers only offer very basic services, such as first aid and assessment and referral functions. With regard to UC health centers, according to UC, none are equipped to offer abortion services.
College women deserve a safe and supportive environment where they can receive appropriate health care and support, including pregnancy counseling and options regarding adoption. SB 320 will instead jeopardize student health and place them at risk of medical complications. The bill does not require campus clinics to connect students with the proper care and follow-up treatment that traditional medical staff and professional health care would ensure. To the contrary, the proposal forces women’s health to take a back seat to a pro-abortion political ideology.
Moreover, SB 320 inappropriately has the State of California promote, funcd and encourage abortions in our higher educational institutions. Ironically, even if California public colleges comply with this bill’s requirements, students will still be negatively affected. The Senate Health Committee analysis noted:
Because campus health centers are all funded through fees on students, this bill may result in either shutting down the centers or substantial increases in student fees to pay for the additional services due to new staffing and equipment necessary to provide them.
As Catholics, because we believe that all of us are created in the image of God, we hold life to be sacred from conception to natural death. We believe that we are stewards, not owners, of this gift of life from a loving God. As a result, we oppose abortion and public taxpayer funding of abortion. Instead, we support policies and services that assist pregnant women in making life-affirming choices, many of which are provided for free by crisis pregnancy centers and other clinics. In the words of Pope Francis, “All life has inestimable value, even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor…deserv[e] the utmost reverence and respect.”
SB 320 is supported by groups including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice California. The bill is opposed by the California Catholic Conference, Californians for Life, the California ProLife Council, and others.