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California passes law to make abortion pills mandatory in public college clinics

California lawmakers passed a bill on Friday that - if signed by Governor Gavin Newsom - would require all state colleges to provide abortion pills to students. 

Every year, more than two million college-age American women get pregnant, disrupting their work and academic lives, whether they decide to carry to term or terminate the pregnancy. 

Medical abortions - using a pair of pills - allow women to end a pregnancy without undergoing an in-patient procedure that may be expensive, require travel and recovery. 

Even as many states tighten restrictions on abortions, California is set to become the first in the nation to mandate college clinics carry the pregnancy termination drugs. 

Used in combination with misoprostol, mifepristone (pictured) provides a medical abortion up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. If signed by the governor, a new California law passed Friday will require all of the state's public universities' clinics to carry the drugs (file) starting in 2023. 

According to the new bill, there are over 400,000 female students in the network of University of California (UC) schools. 

Less than one in 10 students who have children will complete college, according to the advocacy group Pregnant On Campus Initiative. 

It's not simply that a college education sets a woman up for a higher income, those with degrees also live longer, are less likely to become obese, tend to exercise more and are less likely to smoke. 

And if a woman becomes pregnant while in school, she faces a series of challenges if she should choose to terminate the pregnancy. 

Abortions are not cheap, costing between $350 and $950 in the first trimester, and more for a second trimester termination, according to Planned Parenthood.  

Plus, a woman has to take off time from school and work - in most instances, for the procedure itself, and a couple of days after to recover. 

Clinics where abortions are performed may also be far away from a woman's home - and are becoming fewer and farther between as time goes on. 

Six US states have just one abortion clinic. Missouri is barely clinging to its last one, and five states have passed 'heartbeat bans' outlawing abortions after a heartbeat is detectable, around six weeks (by which time some women are not even aware they are pregnant). 

But California lawmakers are determined to move in the opposite direction from much of the country. 

'In a time when states across our country are rolling back women's health care and access to abortion, California continues to lead the nation to protect every individual's right to choose,' said bill author Senator Connie Leyva. 

'SB 24 reaffirms the right of every college student to access abortion.' 

Governor Newsom had given the previous draft of the bill his public support and, if he signs SB 24, as anticipated, all public universities in California will be required to start carrying medical abortion pills from January 1, 2023. 

Students will be able to get the pills - a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol - and from their campus health clinics up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. 

'By ensuring that abortion care is available on campus, college students will not have to choose between delaying important medical care or having to travel long distances or miss classes or work,' said Senator Leyva. 

California is the first state to pass such legislation.  

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