A bill to expand school health clinics has faced opposition from anti-abortion groups.

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Credit: Kate Valdez / Boyle Heights Beat

Los Angeles, Mendez High School in Boyle Heights last month unveiled a new, 6,500-square-foot health clinic on campus.

A bill that would double the number of health clinics on school campuses is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom amid protests from anti-abortion groups that say it would make it easier for the clinics to terminate pregnancies.

Collection Act 1940Allocates $100 million to schools to build or expand an estimated 200 health clinics that provide free medical, dental, mental health counseling, reproductive health care and other services to students and, in some cases, the local community.

“There’s a lot of urgency, a lot of need and demand for this right now,” said Gabrielle Tilley, senior policy manager at the Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health, one of the organizations sponsoring the bill. “We have the money and we have a new understanding of the enormous injustice in our state – this seems like the right time to make it happen.”

The current state budget does not include money for AB 1940, so the state must fund the bill in next year’s budget. Advocates are hopeful because they include Newsom’s other priorities Community schoolsof Children and youth behavioral health initiatives and efforts to streamline Medi-Cal benefits — all well-supported in this year’s budget.

Advocates have been pushing for school-based health centers for decades. In the year Similar legislation was enacted in 2006 but was not funded, prompting districts to seek alternative ways to pay for the infrastructure and services needed to create full-service health centers on K-12 campuses. Some of the estimated 200 existing clinics are run by school districts, and some are run by outside agencies, such as Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles or St. John’s Community Health.

Research shows that on-campus health clinics can have a wide range of benefits for students and their families. Academic attendance increased 5 to 7 days per year for students who visited their campus health clinic, even though their academic attendance was declining prior to their first visit. Research Los Angeles Unified 23 school-based health centers. Good attendance is associated with higher graduation rates and better academic performance.

According to the California School-Based Health Alliance, students who visit school clinics have lower rates of discipline and are less likely to drop out. The clinics also reduced overall health care costs, whether patients went to the emergency room or experienced serious, preventable conditions.

According to the report, which was commissioned by the Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health, students visited their campus health clinics for immunizations, help with weight management, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, and mental health counseling. Assist with substance abuse and treatment for chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

Advocates say there is broad support for the idea of ​​free basic medical care for children at school. But some groups object to clinics offering reproductive health services to students under 18, especially considering that California law It allows minors to access sexual and reproductive health, substance abuse and mental health services with their parents’ consent – or notification.

Their fear is that clinics will send abortion pills or pregnant girls to abortion clinics without the parents’ knowledge or consent and be paid for with public dollars.

“Public schools should not be places where children can have abortions,” said Susan Swift, vice president of legal affairs for the Right to Life League, which seeks to ban abortion. “This is yet another attempt to separate parents and children, and they’re using the state department of education to do it. … This is a big deal.

Alternatively, Swift’s group would like to see schools notify parents immediately if a student is pregnant, send students to prenatal care and provide information about adoption and foster care.

With the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of Roe and Wade, Swift hopes lawmakers will reconsider efforts to provide reproductive health services on campus, even in left-leaning California.

Services offered at school health clinics vary by school, district and outside agency care, but generally school-based health clinics do not provide abortions on campus, said Lisa Eisenberg, director of policy and outreach for California School of Public Health. Health Union. If a pregnant student comes to a school-based health center, staff can provide advice and support and refer to other resources, although each clinic operates independently.

Meanwhile, Mendez High School in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, unveiled a 6,500-square-foot health clinic on its campus last month. The largest such health center in LAUSD, the clinic has 12 rooms for medical, dental, vision and mental health visits. The center has two entrances — one for students and one for the public — and is expected to be a hub in the predominantly low-income Latino community.

It is expected to assist students in their education and career planning by providing internships for students hoping to enter the medical field.

“The opening of the Sylvia Mendez Wellness Center will be a historic milestone for the Boyle Heights community,” said Maria Brenes, executive director of InnerCity Struggle, a local community group. Release from the district. “After many years of organizing and support from students, families, school leadership and community residents, the health center will become a reality as a vital health resource for our community.”

The district also opened a new wellness center serving two high schools in the San Fernando Valley. The $11.31 million Balboa Student and Family Wellness Center provides medical and mental health services to students as well as their families and community members.

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