Across the nation, women are forced to jump through insurmountable hurdles to get a legal abortion, and recent threats from Republican politicians against Planned Parenthood have only exacerbated the problem.
Here at UC Berkeley, the Tang Center would take a great step in countering this trend by providing medical abortion services.
Seeing as women between the ages of 18 and 24 account for 44 percent of all abortions, it is clear that making this service more accessible would benefit students on a college campus.
A unanimously approved ASUC Senate resolution, “In Support of Implementation of Medication Abortion Services at Tang, University Health Services (UHS)” — which was sponsored by ASUC Senator Aanchal Chugh and written by Meghan Warner and Adiba Khan from Students United for Reproductive Health — is an important step in improving this health service’s accessibility to UC Berkeley students.
The resolution, and a similar bill that passed through the Graduate Assembly, urges University Health Services to provide medical abortions to UC Berkeley students. Medical abortions, which have been legal for many years, are available to pregnant women before the tenth week of pregnancy and are not invasive.
Currently, if UC Berkeley students with the Student Health Insurance Plan want a safe and legal abortion, Tang Center social workers refer them to nearby clinics and medical centers that offer abortion services, and SHIP insurance then covers much of the costs.
But by providing the service itself, the Tang Center would save women who want an abortion from the agony of hacking through a jungle of referrals and bureaucracy that only serve to complicate an already difficult decision. An op-ed recently published in The Daily Californian correctly points out that these complications significantly affect a woman’s emotional and mental health. At an institution where students and administrators have championed the importance of mental health to academic success, any process that harms the emotional well-being of students should be reformed.
Opponents to facilitating access to abortion often claim that making it too accessible could mean that women start relying on it as another form of contraception. But like other adults, women are perfectly capable of deciding seriously and rationally for themselves whether it is best for their health to use a particular health service. Offering the service at the Tang Center would mean more freedom to make that choice.
Ultimately, abortion is legal in this country and across the state of California. The state’s leading public institutions would be doing their job by making sure this important health service reaches those who need it.
The Tang Center professes to give “comprehensive medical, mental health, insurance and health promotion services to all Berkeley students.” Providing medical abortions, particularly one that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved 16 years ago, is not an extraordinarily radical decision — it is consistent with the fundamental mission of any campus health care center.
Students interested in expressing support for medical abortion at the Tang Center should sign the petition created by Students United for Reproductive Health.