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California closer to making colleges offer abortion drugs

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

None of the 34 University of California or California State University campuses currently offer abortion services. The California Assembly approved the measure, which returns to the Senate for a final sign-off.

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

Medication that instigates an abortion can be administered up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. One medication is administered in the clinic and a patient is given a second drug to take later at home.

The medications induce bleeding similar to a miscarriage, according to legislative records.

Abortion rights advocates say it can be difficult and expensive for women to seek abortions off campus, and time is of the essence because medications can only be used early in a pregnancy.

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

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

“Schools should be focused on educating the next generation, not ensuring that it’s 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 sign off on changes made in the Assembly.

The Women’s Foundation and the Tara Foundation are among the donors that have pledged to cover startup costs.