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Abortion Medication Should Be on Every Campus

By Saadhana Deshpande

On October 11th, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 24, a bill that would require medication abortion services at public state universities in California starting in 2023. [1] This decision was made in the interest of protecting women and trans people’s health as well as their power to make informed decisions about their own bodies. A 2017 study by the Guttmacher Institute found that medication abortion, a nonsurgical procedure, accounted for 39% of abortions in total. [2] Medication abortion is already a relatively accessible way for people to start their family planning early on. It can be made even more accessible by being readily available at college campuses. Enacting this change costs money. The bill would fund health centers on public campuses by allocating $200,000 per center to pay for equipment, training costs, and more with regards to medication abortion. By investing in this policy, the state of California has chosen to empower young women and trans people to claim bodily autonomy with actual financial support. Across the nation, however, students who suffer from incidents of sexual violence and become pregnant are oftentimes forced into situations where they do not have many options available or any information regarding what they can do next. 

College is generally a time for young adults to mature and make important life-changing decisions, especially regarding sexual and reproductive health. Women and trans people on college campuses are especially vulnerable to sexual violence. 90% of adult rape victims are female [3] and those who are ages 18-24 who are college students are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. [4] When the statistics show that these communities are the ones most likely to experience sexual trauma, it is vital to not only give them options, but to ensure that those options are overtly laid out in a way that is easily attainable. Family planning options are useless if they are not accessible to the people who need them most. 

Women and trans people must be included in dialogues about sex because they are the main at-risk groups for pregnancy; even so, they continue to be neglected. With the added stress of securing housing, finances and school, students do not always have access to the medical services they need to stay healthy, let alone start the family planning process. While this issue persists in the state of California, the situation is worse in other states, where legislation continues to limit the already dwindling number of abortion clinics accessible to folks who need their services. Six states in the country are now down to one abortion clinic each: Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia. [5] In May, legislators in Alabama passed a bill banning all abortions with very few exceptions, and an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims from this bill did not pass. [6] Governor Newsom’s decision to advocate for students in need of reproductive health services speaks volumes at a time when other figures of authority have turned a blind eye on the issue.   

Generally, women and trans people already find it difficult to access abortion services; this issue compounds for those who are also students. Not only will these communities need to face systemic barriers on a social level stemming from ignorance and stigma, but they will also need to jump the hurdles that college life presents to them. State Senator Connie Leyva who sponsored the bill stated that “by making abortion care available on campus, college students will not have to choose between delaying important medical care or needing to travel long distances or even missing classes or work”. [7]  Students who seek abortion services in other states oftentimes must resort to extreme alternatives just to be able to include abortion as a potential option in their future plans. It is not fair that the added pressure of lawmakers who seek to fulfill their own agendas acts as yet another obstacle in the fight for women and trans people’s reproductive health. In order to enact real, tangible change, they need to understand the perspectives of these students and push forward legislation that actually helps them by giving them affordable and accessible options for family planning. 

Works Cited 

  1.  Caroline Kelly, “California Governor signs bill requiring public universities to offer medication abortion”, CNN (Oct. 2019):
  2. Rachel K. Jones, Elizabeth Witwer and Jenna Jerman. (2019) Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2017. Guttmacher Institute:
  3.  Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement (2000). 
  4.   Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Rape and Sexual Victimization Among College-Aged Females, 1995-2013 (2014). 
  5.  Holly Yan, “These 6 states have only 1 abortion clinic left. Missouri could become the first with zero”, CNN (June 2019):
  6. Eric Levenson, “Abortion laws in the US: Here are the states pushing to restrict access”, CNN (May 2019):
  7. Caroline Kelly, “California Governor signs bill requiring public universities to offer medication abortion”, CNN (Oct. 2019):


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