A quick note, this interview was recorded on 1/26. In the intervening week between the recording of this podcast and this post going live, the California State Senate voted on and passed SB 320 by a vote of 25-13, with two Senators not voting.
One reason why I jumped at the opportunity to talk with Professor Co about this bill is because it fits perfectly with the idea of California Exceptionalism that we track. By California Exceptionalism, we mean policies that California is pursuing or has passed that go further than anywhere else in the nation. As Professor Co mentions in our conversation, while some public universities offer medication abortion services, no state in the country has a law requiring public universities to provide this service. Should SB 320 pass, California would be exceptional in that it would be the only state to do so.
SB 320 is the evolution of a student-led initiative that started at the University of California, Berkeley. Students asked the health administration at the University to provide medication abortion services, but the request was denied. From that, SB 320 was created. The bill has been pared back a little bit since it’s original introduction in February of last year.
The original bill put this new requirement on all UC’s, CSU’s, and California community colleges that had health centers. Further, the original bill required those on campus health centers to provide scientifically accurate information on abortion and medication abortion services. As the bill progressed, it was amended to cut out the provision about providing scientifically accurate information. Additionally, community colleges are no longer required to be a part of the program, only schools in the UC or CSU systems.
The other interesting aspect of this bill is that it is completely privately funded. The State of California cannot use General Fund dollars to fund the program and the university campuses are not allowed to use student fees to fund this new program. More interestingly, the bill further says that schools will not be required to provide these services should the private funds dry up.
Lastly, a quick thank you to Professor Daniel Grossman at UCSF in helping us out by sharing the studies mentioned in the podcast with Professor Co.