State Senator Connie Leyva, D-Chino, has reintroduced Senate Bill 24, which requires all 31 California public universities to offer the abortion pill in their health centers by Jan. 1, 2023.

Sen. Connie Leyva is a proponent of the abortion pill. (Courtesy of Connie Leyva)

“Everyone should have the choice of what she does to her own body,” Leyva said. 

She reintroduced the bill in December, after the original bill was vetoed last September by former Gov. Jerry Brown. 

In his veto message, Brown wrote, “Because services required by the bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary.”

However, for many women, traveling off campus to obtain the pill can be costly, time-consuming and inconvenient.

“Basically what he said is ‘if you’re pregnant and you want an abortion, there’s so many options out there, it’s easy for you [to get an abortion],’” Leyva said. “What he didn’t take into consideration is that the clinics and Planned Parenthoods are not always close to campus.”

Leyva said that the issue is one of accessibility. 

“Many women going to school do not have transportation,” she said. “It’s going to be extremely expensive to have it done off of campus. You have to miss time from school, you have to miss time from work; there’s just too many elements that are affected by having to travel off-campus. If it’s available at the health center, just like birth control is, you can walk across campus with convenience and talk to a professional about having a medicated abortion.”

All California public universities’ health centers offer birth control pills, but none provide medicated abortions. 

Senate Bill 24 states that, “The state has an interest in ensuring that every pregnant person in California who wants to have an abortion can obtain access to that care as easily and as early in pregnancy as possible. When pregnant young people decide that abortion is the best option for them, having early, accessible care can help them stay on track to achieve their educational and other aspirational life plans.”

According to Planned Parenthood’s website, medicated abortions must be done within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, so if a woman seeks to terminate a pregnancy, the abortion pill should be taken as early as possible.

“Time is of the essence,” Leyva said. “It’s important for women to have access on campus, because if you have to go off campus looking for a place, it’s going to be a little bit more difficult. Most women don’t even know that they’re pregnant until about six weeks along. We just want to make sure it is easily accessible to women on campus and that it is as safe as taking Tylenol or Viagra.”

The abortion pill was first advocated for by a group of students at UC Berkeley, who wanted to ensure students had access to medicated abortion on campus. 

“They went to [UC Berkeley] administration and they were told no. Then they came to me and asked me if I would be willing to carry a bill that would make sure that it’s on every CSU campus and every UC, and I said yes,” Leyva said. 

Last October, then candidate, now Gov. Gavin Newsom publicly supported Senate Bill 24, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that he would have supported Leyva’s legislation.

Now, with Newsom in office, Leyva said she hopes to finally get the bill passed.

“He has made a comment that he would have not vetoed the bill, so we’re gonna take him at his word,” she said.

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