California is about to make colleges offer abortion drugs

SACRAMENTO — A measure that would make California the first state to require all public universities to offer abortion drugs at their campus health centers cleared a hurdle Wednesday.

None of the 34 campuses of the University of California or California State University, such as CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo, currently offer abortion services. The California Assembly approved the measure, which returns to the Senate for final approval.

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Private donors have agreed to pay millions of dollars in start-up costs, including ultrasound machines, staff training and the establishment of a 24-hour hotline for emergency questions and referrals. Universities would be required to offer the service by 2022.

Medicines that induce an abortion can be given up to 10 weeks after the start of a pregnancy. One medication is administered at the clinic and a patient is given a second medication to take later at home.

The drugs cause bleeding similar to a miscarriage, according to legislative documents.

Abortion rights advocates say it can be difficult and expensive for women to get abortions off campus, and time is running out because drugs can only be used early in a pregnancy .

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“Today, California took another historic step to ensure that college students who have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy have the support and resources they need,” said Surina Khan, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California, in a statement.

Anti-abortion group Students for Life called the vote a tragedy.

“Schools should focus on educating the next generation, not making it easy to end the lives of future generations,” the organization’s president, Kristan Hawkins, said in a statement.

The state Senate has already approved the measure but must approve the changes in the Assembly.

The Women’s Foundation and the Tara Foundation are among the donors who have pledged to cover start-up costs.

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