Story by Clement D.
During the recent Supreme Court nomination, both parties expressed concern about the future of Roe v. Wade. Justice Kavanaugh’s only word on the matter was that he considered Roe v. Wade “settled law.” So, why the alarm from the pro-choice movement, and the hope from the pro-life? It is unclear if the present Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, but even though the law may not be overturned, there are still plenty of relevant decisions to be made defining the limits of abortion. One such case is California’s “College Student Right to Access Act,” or SB 320.
Introduced in early 2017, SB 320 mandates that all UCs and CSUs provide abortion medication, prescribed until up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, in their on-campus health centers. The law passed the California Assembly and Senate but was surprisingly vetoed by pro-choice governor Jerry Brown in September. Brown argued that, “The average distance to abortion providers in campus communities is five to seven miles,” making the bill unnecessary. Senator Connie Levya, the bill’s author, has promised to reintroduce the bill. Gavin Newsom, the governor elect, is staunchly pro-abortion, more so than Brown. If the reintroduced bill reaches his desk, it will most likely become law.
But there is more to SB320 than just the question of abortion.
Since the bill contains no exemptions for conscientious objectors, the bill would eventually force university employees to cooperate in the abortion industry, even if they objected on ethical grounds. Opposition to abortion is not a fringe religious view: according to BBC, Islam “regards abortion as wrong and haram (forbidden),” although it is sometimes permitted. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which lays out the Church’s official teachings, states, “a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” Therefore, since opposition to abortion is a common religious view, it is very likely that the bill would violate religious freedoms.
And then there is the issue of safety. There have been 22 confirmed cases of death from RU-486, the pill that SB 320 would mandate universities to offer. The pill’s manufacturer, Danco, lists fatal infections and bleeding as an unlikely, but possible side-effect. Last quarter, students at UCLA and other California schools displayed 14 toilet seats on campus, each representing one of the 14 women who had died up to that time from complications of RU-486. Their message: “This is no place for women to die.” The bill could seriously endanger young women, especially if they are not fully informed of the risk. SB320 states that, “abortion by medication techniques is extremely safe.” Clearly, this is not entirely true.
And of course, there are the millions of unborn men and women who have been directly killed by abortion procedures.
Across the the United States, there are many unresolved questions on abortion. Limiting or expanding abortion ultimately rests in legislators’ hands, and in our hands. If we wish to prevent abortion, that means not only fighting for large-scale change like the reversal of Roe v. Wade, but also fighting these smaller battles, most of which the public at large is unaware. In the case of California’s recent election, the question of abortion rarely came up. The focus from both Democrat candidate Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox was elsewhere: the Trump administration, the California housing crisis, single payer healthcare, etc. But, as the Supreme Court confirmation hearings clearly demonstrated, Americans care deeply about abortion, perhaps more so than the other issues mentioned. Unfortunately, many voters were unaware of the stakes, and the candidates lightly passed over the biggest political controversy of the last 45 years.
Wherever the Supreme Court stands on abortion, the real battle often lies elsewhere. The recent election is a reminder that abortion must always be carefully considered when evaluating candidates even if the candidates neglect the topic. But even though California seems poised to pass the law in the near future, the battle is not over. Politicians ultimately take their cues from their constituents. Empowering people with knowledge about SB 320 and its consequences will lead to change in public opinion and protect countless women and their unborn children.