This past Tuesday, I and several students from Fresno State traveled to Sacramento to testify against Senate Bill 320 in the California State Assembly Health Committee. This bill requires student health centers at all CSU and UC campuses to provide abortion drugs, or RU-486. It is an unnecessary overreach by the abortion industry, and it merits firm opposition from pro-life and pro-choice supporters alike.
The abortion pill is not “Plan B” or the “morning-after pill.” Rather, it is an abortion done by means of ingesting two medications, and it ends the life of a human being up to 10 weeks after conception. At this age, the fetus has a head, hands, feet, fingers, toes, a heartbeat and brain activity.
The first drug, mifepristone, is taken in a clinical setting and blocks the natural production of progesterone, a hormone that stabilizes the lining of the uterine wall. This cuts off the baby’s nourishment supply, after which he or she dies in the womb.
The next drug, misoprostol, is taken one or two days later and is self-administered by the woman in her home or, in this case, her shared dorm room bathroom. Heavy bleeding and painful cramping occurs to induce labor and force the baby out of the woman’s uterus.
This is not a simple process, and it has several severe potential side effects including hemorrhaging, vomiting and fever. Fourteen women have died after taking this medication. A witness who testified on behalf of SB 320 at the Health Committee admitted that 3 percent of all women who take these abortion drugs will have fetal remains left within their uterus. This can lead to septic shock and requires a follow-up surgical, aspiration abortion.
In spite of this, SB 320’s author, Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, has the audacity to compare the seriousness of the abortion’s side effects to those of aspirin or ibuprofen. Such rhetoric is dishonest and immoral.
Here are some reasons why both pro-life and pro-choice persons can agree to keep abortion drugs off our campuses:
1. While proponents of SB 320 insist that it is to facilitate student “access” to abortion, there is no demonstrable lack of access. A geographic analysis showed that UC and CSU campuses are located within an average of six miles of the nearest abortion pill provider. In Fresno State’s case, it is only 1.9 miles. Given the enormous percentage of CSU and UC students who are commuters, have their own cars or can obtain rides through ridesharing apps or public transit, this is not an urgent need.
2. The bill sends the wrong message to pregnant students on our campuses. Parenthood and success are not incompatible. Thousands of student-parents within the CSU and UC systems graduate every year, and we should advocate for programs to support and encourage pregnant and parenting students. This bill supports only one choice – a life-changing decision that is made during a time of stress and uncertainty, distributed by a trusted academic institution.
3. The bill’s funding mechanism is deliberately vague. Between 2019-21, implementation of the bill will be funded “privately,” ignoring the fact that overhead costs for the student health centers are already funded by taxpayers and student tuition. Nevertheless, after 2021, the bill purposefully leaves the door open for taxpayer dollars or student tuition to fund the entire program. The vast majority of Americans and millions of Californians continue to oppose taxpayer-funded abortion. Taxpayers will certainly be on the hook for costs associated with malpractice.
4. A university campus is no place to be distributing abortion drugs. Campuses are places of learning and enhancement, and abortion furthers neither of those causes. Furthermore, student health centers are not equipped to deal with complications from abortion, and the bill does not even require a standing agreement with local hospitals to provide emergency care in the event of adverse outcomes. And again, taxpayers will pay for malpractice lawsuits.
As a CSU student, I hope that my fellow students, alumni, donors and taxpayers will make their voices heard to university administrators and lawmakers, and urge for this bill’s defeat. A bill that treats motherhood as incompatible with educational and career fulfillment is an insult to authentic feminism and deserves our fervent rebuke.
Bernadette Tasy is a Fresno State graduate student and president of the Students for Life group