Yale University set a precedent last week by deciding to offer the new abortion drug, RU-486, to all recipients of its standard health plan.
“It is a legal and approved treatment and there may be some members of the Yale community that may choose to use it,” Yale spokesman Thomas Conroy said.
Also known as mifepristone, RU-486 was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last September. It had been tested previously in Europe.
The University of Michigan Health Services announced in November it would not offer the drug.
UHS interim Director Robert Winfield said UHS does not have the facilities to offer surgical abortions in the event that the fetus was not completely expelled after taking RU-486.
“The drug, when effective, produces a miscarriage of the baby during the early part of pregnancy. It allows women to have an abortion without surgery and with greater privacy,” Winfield said.
The drug also carries numerous risks including “hemorrhage and incomplete abortion,” Winfield said.
The decision at Yale has resulted in questions about student tuition covering the treatment.
“Students receive health care as a condition of enrollment” and “can utilize a full range of services,” Conroy said
Yevgeny Vilensky, a junior and the founder of the Pro-Life League at Yale, did not feel his college tuition should pay for new abortion techniques.
“We have been opposed to Yale supporting abortions, especially using student funds,” Vilensky said, adding that Yale misunderstands his group”s stance on the issue.
“The university says that just because you”re a guy you can say you don”t want to pay for the drug because you won”t use it. Yet there are a lot of women in the Pro-Life League. We do not want to pay for what over 50 percent of America”s population thinks is murder,” he said.
Caroline Barber, a Yale junior and president of the Reproductive Rights Action League of Yale saw the decision as positive.
“We honor the administration”s policy to offer all ranges of health services,” she said.
Barber said “a student could go through four years at Yale and not use any of the UHS services,” yet still be paying for them.
Another issue is the health risks associated with RU-486.
“This is an extremely dangerous drug,” Vilensky said. “The actual legalization of RU-486 was a political decision in the first place. If this pill was not an abortion pill, and for some other kind of procedure, it would never have been approved because there is a high mortality and hospitalization rate.”
Conroy said Yale has the facilities to handle any complications from the drug. “If the (Yale) UHS offers any treatment or procedure or drug it has the expertise and personnel that is needed,” he said.
RALY views the drug as “just a new method. If there were a new method of cataract surgery the university would offer that,” Barber said.
The Pro-Life League also fears that the new drug will make abortion more convenient.
“As a compromise, Yale should make it just as easy for women to have children, and Yale doesn”t do that,” Vilensky said.
Yet Barber said she does not see the new drug as making abortion a more viable option.
“It is not a major concern,” she said. “Any woman who”s in this situation will carefully weigh all her options and simply having another procedure is not going to make her want to elect abortion.”