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Bill Requiring UCs And CSUs To Provide Abortion Pills Advances

A student walks by Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union at San Diego State University, Sept. 24, 2016.
A student walks by Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union at San Diego State University, Sept. 24, 2016.

Like most U.S. colleges and universities, the University of Californa and the California State University systems do not offer medical abortions — pills that terminate a pregnancy, which public health officials have deemed relatively safe.

UC schools require students to have insurance that covers abortions, while CSU does not require students to obtain insurance of any kind. Universities in both systems partner with off-campus abortion providers.

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A measure by state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, would require the systems to provide abortion pills at their student health centers. Leyva introduced the bill after UC Berkeley declined student petitions to provide the medication at its on-campus health center.

Cal student Adiba Khan read the letter of a classmate to the Senate Health committee. She described missing class, work and her internship as she searched for an off-campus provider.

"I lost about $300 throughout this entire process," Khan read. "I lost days of lecture that could help me get a higher grade. I lost valuable experience from my internship."

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It has drawn the opposition of anti-abortion groups and resistance from the university systems. Angela Gilliard of the University of California said the system does not formally oppose the legislation but has concerns about the cost to students.


"Student health centers are supported by student fees," Gilliard said. "Adding specialists for this service would add an additional expense directly for students."

A report from legislative staff says how much it would cost is unknown and there is also no data — beyond anecdotes — showing student access problems.

The committee passed the bill, despite the questions, but only after Leyva agreed to pause future consideration until it is amended. She acknowledged that could take until next year's session.