New investigation reveals lacking information on abortion pills at California public universities

A new investigation by LAist has revealed that basic information on where or how to obtain abortion pills, which are now required to be offered for free at public universities in California, is often entirely absent. One year after the state became the first to require these services, LAist found that 11 of 23 California State University (CSU) campus clinics did not have any information about medication abortion on their clinic websites and weren't listed as a service offered. Of the University of California's 10 campuses, only 8 mentioned medication abortion on their clinic websites, despite the law taking effect in January 2023.

Through conversations with students and faculty at multiple campuses, LAist found that there was little information available for students to obtain the pills. For example, abortion was mentioned only in small letters on a poster inside exam rooms at the health centre of one CSU campus. A student wouldn't see this until they were already waiting for a doctor or nurse.

California State University's interim assistant vice chancellor of student affairs, Ray Murillo, acknowledged the shortcomings and stated that administrative staffers are developing guidance so campuses share the same information to help train frontline staff and providers when students ask about the service. Connie Leyva, the former Pomona-area state senator who authored the bill, said she is disappointed in the law's implementation but not surprised, stating that if university presidents or chancellors disagree that women should have access to abortion services, they might think they can leave it off. However, Heather Harper, a spokesperson for UC Health, stated that communication to students at each location varies and may include website content, flyers, emails, or person-to-person conversations.

Despite the lack of advertising, Deanna Gomez, a college senior at California State University-San Bernardino, said she would have taken advantage of the service if it had been offered on campus. Instead, she spent hundreds of dollars and missed a month of classes after driving 300 miles to obtain a medication abortion. This article is from a partnership that includes LAist, NPR, and KFF Health News.

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