Last Tuesday, we at Right to Life took the three hour drive up to Sacramento to lobby against Senate Bill 320, a proposed law that would force all UC and CSU student health centers to become abortion clinics by mandating that they distribute the chemical abortion pill commonly known as RU- 486.
On the way, we met with other pro-life advocates, many of them students, that were present at the Capitol to oppose the bill. In separate groups, we marched through the capitol’s halls knocking on doors, handing out our letters of opposition, and meeting with legislators and their staff. Assemblymember Jim Patterson, who represents North Fresno was gracious enough to host our staff and volunteers.
We carried with us multiple letters of opposition that we handed out to all the Assembly Members who serve in either the Health Committee or the Higher Education Committee, where SB 320 must be heard before it reaches the floor of the State Assembly.
We scheduled a brief meeting with one of Dr. Joaquin Arambula’s staff members to express our concerns over this bill, and the direct effect it will have on our community, and our Fresno State students. Dr. Arambula is the Assembly representative for South Fresno and other South Valley cities.
After marching down halls, and stepping in and out of elevators, we were once again in Jim Patterson’s office. He took the time to sit down with us to let us know how much he appreciates our work, and also reminded us that although things might look bleak, it’s important to remain faithful in fighting for unborn lives.
After visiting many assembly members and many offices, we had some extra time to go outside and start handing out flyers with information with the time and place that the Assembly Health Committee would hold its hearing for Senate Bill 320. Hundreds of people were at the Capitol protesting another piece of legislation being heard that day, and we were able to let them know to come to the hearing for SB 320 and oppose it.
While inside, we managed to find some seats in the committee room. Testifying in favor of the bill was the author, State Senator Connie Leyva; an OB/GYN from the University of California, San Francisco; and a student from the University of California, Riverside.
In opposition to the bill was Wynette Sills, Director of Californians for Life, and Rebekah Buell, a young woman who got pregnant in college, took the chemical abortion pill, regretted her decision, and was able to participate in the abortion pill reversal process to save her baby. Buell now has two young healthy boys, finished her masters degree, and now works for a pregnancy resource facility in Roseville, CA.
Senator Leyva took the stage one more time to reiterate the importance of the bill before inviting supporters of SB 320 to give their public comment in support of the bill. The “public comment” portion of legislative hearings is where the committee chair invites supporters or opponents from the general public to come to a microphone, briefly state their name and organization they represent, and state their support or opposition.
To support the bill was a crowd of lobbyists and a group of several college-aged women in matching t-shirts, a choreographed opposition effort orchestrated by Planned Parenthood. Many were from universities and community colleges in the bay area. After about 40 young women spoke out in defense of the bill, the rest of the room was also given a chance to speak against the bill.
Although there were only about 20 of us in the room who opposed the bill, we quickly realized as we stepped outside, that there were literally hundreds of people waiting outside to oppose the bill. Opponents of the bill from all over the state testified in opposition for a full hour.
In spite of that, the outcome did not go in our favor. Ten pro-abortion Democrats on the committee voted in favor of the bill, while four pro-life Republicans voted no.
Nevertheless, it was an important and, we believe, successful lobbying effort. A number of state legislators heard directly from their constituents throughout the state that this is an unpopular and divisive piece of legislation. A number of Democrats, caught between their radically pro-choice leadership and their more conservative constituents, do not want a vote on this bill. We hope this reticence can work to ultimately kill the bill in committee.
On Tuesday, June 26th, pro-life advocates will hold another Lobby Day at the Capitol prior to the Assembly Higher Education committee vote on SB 320 at 1:30 PM. We encourage all our supporters to call their State Assembly members and urge them to vote no! You can find who represents you by entering your address here.
Joaquin Arambula – 916-319-2031
Frank Bigelow – 916-319-2005
Jim Patterson – 916-319-2023
Rudy Salas – 916-319-2032
Devon Mathis – 916-319-2026