On-campus abortion impacts equal access to education

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Providing medication abortion at universities goes beyond improving access to the procedure for affected students—it’s vital to improve access to education.

California recently became the first state in the US to require public colleges to provide students with access to medication abortion on campus.

Women and people needing abortions have the right to obtain them safely, but this right doesn’t benefit them equally if everyone doesn’t have the means to access them in practice. Distant clinics, lack of transportation, financial restraints, and lack of information are all obstacles people are all too often forced to navigate to undergo a procedure that makes a permanent difference in their lives.

Students are especially vulnerable to these constraints. High rent and tuition costs, demanding class schedules, and remote campuses only exacerbate the problem. 

But students shouldn’t have to choose between jeopardizing their education and accessing an abortion. The decision to access an abortion is never made lightly. A missed class deadline to travel to Toronto or Ottawa to access an immediate procedure shouldn’t be a factor. Above all, a student shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice their education to raise a child simply because they couldn’t access a safe abortion.

Surgical abortions are available in Kingston, but students may face waitlists or cost or scheduling constraints.

Medication abortion is discreet, can be performed at home, and could be reasonably implemented on campuses. Students would be able to avoid long and stressful wait times for procedures and could terminate unwanted pregnancies without going to their parents for transportation and insurance, which can impact their safety or relationships.

Such access would also normalize abortion as a viable choice and reduce stigma around female-bodied people’s right to choose. On-campus medication abortion access could also relieve pressure on community services like Kingston General Hospital.

The student demographic is disproportionately impacted by the factors that prevent many from having reasonable access to abortions, as well as sexual violence that potentially results in unwanted pregnancy. 

Providing students with a confidential and safe way to have an abortion within their reach is more than reasonable—it’s essential.

Ontario should implement a requirement for universities to provide access to medication abortion in its public health system, and any national pharma care program should mandate the same.

Access to the medication would provide pregnant students with the autonomy to govern their own bodies and provide them with the resources they need to follow through with their personal choices.

The decision to have an abortion is difficult enough. Queen’s students with unwanted pregnancies shouldn’t have to endanger their educations to pursue a procedure that’s their right to access.

—Journal Editorial Board

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