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State bill would require UC to cover and provide medication abortions

By Ryan Leou

April 12, 2017 1:23 a.m.

A state legislator proposed a law that would require public universities to cover medication abortions under student health insurance plans and provide them at student health centers.

State Senator Connie Leyva introduced Senate Bill 320 on Feb. 13. It would also make state funding for University of California student health insurance plans and student health centers conditional on providing the medication on campus.

In medication abortions, physicians can induce early termination before the 10th week of pregnancy through two oral medications regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. According to a press release from Leyva, medication abortion has a 95 percent success rate.

Medication abortions are different from emergency contraception, such as the morning-after pill, which stop a pregnancy before it starts.

“SB-320 will help to improve the academic success of students and, if a pregnant student wishes, she will be able to receive this health care service with limited financial or logistical barriers,” Leyva said in a statement.

Leyva also said she hopes the bill will help college students seeking early-term abortions so they do not have to travel miles away from work and school to receive care.

UC spokesperson Claire Doan said in an email the University is still in the process of evaluating SB-320.

Doan also said the UC Student Health Insurance Plan currently covers oral, dermal, injectable, implantable and emergency contraception. It also covers both medical and surgical abortion services.

UCLA spokesperson Rebecca Kendall said in an email the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center has long provided students with birth control advice, pregnancy testing and counseling and contraception.

She added the Ashe Center provides emergency contraception, such as the morning-after pill, but does not provide medication abortion pills.

Leyva emphasized the low risk of medication abortions. Serious complications occur about 0.5 percent of the time, according to a paper by the Guttmacher Institute.

Some students said they support the bill because they think it could help provide more accessible reproductive care for students.

Sylvia Lutze, a third-year bioengineering student and former Daily Bruin contributor, said she thinks the bill could help students who are shy about going to private clinics or hospitals.

Aliza Levin, a third-year human biology and society student, said she thinks people should have the right to abortion covered by insurance.

“College students especially are at a higher risk of getting pregnant and they don’t want to be taking care of children,” Levin said. “A larger proportion of women could focus on their education.”

A state Senate committee will discuss the bill in a hearing April 19.

Contributing reports from Kavya Gupta, Daily Bruin contributor.

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Ryan Leou | Assistant News Editor
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