Video by Allison Royal
A bill is going through the California Senate that would require public university and community college health centers to provide medicated abortion services. The bill passed its second reading April 25.
Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 320, which would mandate student health centers that operate with state funding to provide students with access to medication to abort a pregnancy. The bill does not include surgical abortion procedures.
“SB 320 will ensure that pregnant college students — if they choose to do so — are able to end their pregnancy within the first few weeks without needing to travel off campus to a distant clinic, pay out of pocket and even miss class or work obligations in order to access these constitutionally protected services,” Leyva said in a press release April 19.
The Cal Poly Students for Life Club caught wind of the bill and began demonstrating their opposition last week, hanging baby socks on the fence in front of the Health Center. It was their way of taking a stand, Margaret Caligaris, the president of Students for Life, said.
“We wanted to do something that would have a really heavy impact,” Caligaris said. “Students for Life had been doing a sock drive since March and they are going to put baby socks around the congressional building in Washington, D.C. So we wanted to do our own little demonstration around the Health Center to show how this bill will affect lives, students and everyone on a day-to-day basis.”
The baby socks were removed when the fencing around the Health Center was taken down. The Students for Life Club also held a protest on Dexter Lawn April 27 to raise awareness and inform students about SB 320.
Caligaris, an environmental earth and soil sciences sophomore, expressed her disdain that California is more open to providing abortion to college campuses than working on providing a more accessible campus for new mothers. After walking through Cal Poly’s campus, Caligaris found there were very few resources for student mothers.
“The real thing that offends me the most as a woman on a college campus is that the legislator is basically telling us as women that we have to pick between our children and our education,” Caligaris said.
Reproductive law and politics and feminist studies professor Jennifer Denbow voiced her support for SB 320.
“This bill would expand access to abortions that are safe, it would allow for more abortions to be done early in pregnancy,” Denbow said. “I think that more access to reproductive health services like this is an important part of healthcare and reproductive justice.”
Students for Life is ready for an uphill battle in a primarily abortion rights-oriented state, Caligaris said.
“We will be fighting this bill until it is voted on. We are not going to stop,” Caligaris said.