Guest Commentary: Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis Is Lacking in Abortion Resources

By Samantha Solomon

It is easy to forget your health, whether that’s physical health or mental health. Both are equally important and, luckily, both are covered—to an extent—under the UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS). However, in terms of sexual health, free condoms and a Plan B vending machine are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg in terms of accessibility to birth control. We can be doing more, much more.

According to the SHCS website, “Abortions are not performed at the UC Davis Student Health and Wellness Center, but if you are considering an abortion, you may want to meet with a provider here at SHCS so they can refer you to Sutter Davis Hospital or a provider in your insurance network.”

This is despite the fact that 60% of all reported abortions are completed by women in their 20s, with the largest percentage of all abortions attributed to women between 20 and 24. College-aged women are clearly in need of this service. Of course, the controversy that surrounds abortion is not unknown to me, nor should it be ignored.

A recent bill, passed in October of 2017 by the House of Representatives, banned abortions after 20 weeks with vehement support from President Donald Trump. While the measure, gregariously titled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, did not receive the 60 votes needed to break a Democratic filibuster, conservative politicians have made it clear their agendas consist of seeing Planned Parenthood dismantled and destroyed, while pro-life activists protest outside of nearly every available abortion clinic in the country.

It is hard not to miss the contention over this topic. Perhaps the UC Health system does not wish to begin a pro-life vs pro-choice debate, especially not in this political climate. However, Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis has a responsibility to the students, first and foremost. By ignoring the issue of abortion, the UC Health system is ignoring a large portion of its student body. UC Davis can change this culture of silence by building constructive discussion and criticism around the issues that plague students most, availability of the abortion pill being one of them.

While, the abortion pill remains unavailable UC-wide, I call on UC Davis to change this by opening up a discussion between students, administrators, and the healthcare professionals at SHCS about providing services to all students.

I argue that UC Davis SHCS should provide, at the very least, the abortion pill to terminate a pregnancy safely, but other, smaller steps can be taken to ensure that sexual health services are made widely available. Simply adding a free transportation service for women seeking an abortion from the SHCS to abortion clinics in Sacramento and Woodland would greatly increase accessibility. As of now, those seeking these reproductive services would have to collaborate with Planned Parenthood for transportation to their clinics.

A huge hurdle presents itself within the borders of the city of Davis. No cost-effective abortion clinic exists in Davis, neither at the SHCS, nor anywhere else within the city. The nearest clinic to get the abortion pill is Woodland. The nearest clinic to get the medical abortion procedure is Sacramento. Both are over 10 miles away; even the most avid UC Davis biker would find this journey laborious.

A young woman dealing with the everyday stress of college and the added stress of an unplanned pregnancy might struggle to continue with her studies simply because she could not get a ride to Woodland or Sacramento. A student who uses SHIP as their insurance might have to carry a child to term because she could not afford to pay 400 dollars out of pocket to terminate her pregnancy. Why isn’t such a life-changing procedure readily available to those who need it?

There is no doubt that there are students who need this service, but who are denied access due to unavailability. The Women’s Resources and Research Center (WRRC) on campus provides information to female students about family planning, including abortion. Should the SHCS and WRRC team up, we would see a beautiful and brilliant unfolding of sexual health resources for all, providing a sense of stability and reassurance to both partners of an unplanned pregnancy, male or female. Post-abortion resources, such as support groups, peer counseling and advocacy, could be implemented, which would promote positive mental health in the event of increased stressed. It would allow students who have terminated a pregnancy to know that they are not alone, and this, especially, is would be an incredibly meaningful resource for students at UC Davis.


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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13 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis Is Lacking in Abortion Resources”

  1. Ken A

    I agree that it may be tough for some poor hillbilly girls living in a trailer in the mountains of a rural bible thumping red state to make it hundreds of miles to the nearest abortion provider. With that said I don’t believe that a single UCD student has ever (or will ever) make the decision to carry a baby to term just because UC Davis did not offer “free transportation service for women seeking an abortion from the SHCS.

    UCD women are some of the smartest women in the nation and for the tiny number that 1. Have no friends, 2. Have no car, 3. Are too poor to have a smartphone and can’t download the Uber app, 4. Don’t even have a few dollars for bus fare know that if they call Planned Parenthood with a sob story they will get a free ride to the clinic.

  2. Ken A

    The site below says that Sutter Davis offers abortion services (but I did not see anything about “free transportation service” from Suttter).

    https://localwiki.org/davis/Abortion

    P.S. I just remembered that UCD students who can’t ride or walk over a mile can not only get a free ride to Sutter on Unitrans, but can get a free ride to Woodland Sacramento on Yolobus (by showing their valid UCD ID)…

  3. Daniel Segel

    Per the Student Health website (https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/topics/emergency-contraception-ec), “EC is available over-the-counter (without a prescription) to registered students of all genders at the SHCS Pharmacy during normal operating hours. ”

    EC is emergency contraception.  There are four different types listed. In addition, there are (or were, not sure about it during construction) vending machines in the ARC that sold Plan B (https://theaggie.org/2017/04/23/uc-davis-installs-plan-b-vending-machine/)

  4. Howard P

    Choosing to continue a pregnancy to term (unplanned or not) is a choice… pro-choice and pro-life… are the pregnancy and maternity services as equally available as abortion?

    Meant as honest question…

    1. Howard P

      First, thank you for your fair/honest response… truly… good info, Tia…

      Second, have to ask a followup question, given the topic… is the Kaiser coverage available to all students at the same price as the other “… UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS)”?  If you don’t know, that’s cool… not asking you to research… maybe someone closer to SHCS will answer that.

      I see that my original question was incomplete…

      Still meant as an honest, fair question…

  5. Tia Will

    I just want to drop a note for all of you males who think you know how easy transport would be for a woman after a surgical D& C. You have written some of the most uninformed comments I have ever heard on this topic.

    1. As a gyn who has performed hundreds of D&Cs for miscarriages, and who has had one done, we never advise a woman to drive herself to and from this appointment no matter how close.

    2. The amount of cramping and bleeding following even the most uncomplicated of procedures would make a bus ride inadvisable.

    3. For the same reason, I would not recommend that a woman take a Lyfte or taxi thus effectively making the driver responsible for her if a problem ensued.

    4. It would certainly be best for the woman to arrange a driver for her appointment as we always recommended, but a shuttle or designated clinic transport with clear instruction for what to do given the unlikely event of complication would be acceptable.

     

    1. Howard P

      Of all terminations of pregnancy… natural ‘abortions’ (my mom had two… aka early miscarriages… which means I’m an only child); morning after/emergency pills; other abortion/termination of pregnancy procedures;

      Tia, can you hazard a guess as to what %-age are D&C’s?  Meant as a fair/honest question… we never faced that need… so I really don’t know.  Please inform this male.

      I get where a D&C is different from other procedures… invasive/potentially dangerous for all involved…

      1. Howard P

        Tia… please ingore Ken when deciding whether or not to answer my question(s)… I asked a genuine, honest question… Ken made statements… I did not, as to you… my statements (to the extent I may have) were meant as context…

    2. Ken A

      I just re-read the comments and didn’t see where any “males” (or females) gave any tips on “post” op transportation. Once a woman makes it to an an abortion provider they will not have any problem getting a ride home (unless Tia thinks the people at the Sac or Woodland PP will just kick the girl to the curb post op).

      An old girlfriends Mom is active in the NARAL and for a few years in a row I went to their big lunch at the Fairmont (one year sitting a the table next to Ray & Dagmar Dolby) and I know dozens of SF women that would miss their bridge game at the T&C club and drive to Sacramento or Woodland if they heard a young woman needed a ride.

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