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By Kyra Haas August 30, 2018

Deceptive Facebook post distorts California proposal on abortion med

A stock photo of a smiling soccer team of young girls accompanies an article from claiming that free abortion pills would be pushed on "all students" in California under a proposed law.

Not quite.

If SB 320 passes the state Assembly, it will mandate access to medication abortion on the 34 public campuses in the University of California and California State University systems.

The legislation refers to medication abortions, where pills are prescribed to end pregnancy in the first 10 weeks. The medications involved, mifepristone and misoprostol, are sometimes referred to as abortion pills.

But those medication abortions won’t be free, and they won’t be available to "all students across the state."

The bill involves public state universities and their student health centers — not high schools or private schools.

This story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The majority of the Your News Wire article was lifted from an opinion piece written by Lila Rose, the founder and president of the anti-abortion group Live Action, known for creating "sting" videos targeting Planned Parenthood. This original column ran on, a conservative-leaning publication.

Your News Wire changed the column’s headline from "California moving to mandate abortion pills on campus" to the more inclusive and incorrect "California to supply free abortion pills to all students."

We contacted the article's author, Sean Adl-Tabatabai, and the article was deleted from the site within minutes.

"Since being alerted to this we have decided to completely remove the article from our website as we cannot substantiate the claims made," Adl-Tabatabai said in an email.

Here's where their original reporting went wrong.

What the bill says

The bill passed the state Senate in January. It hasn’t passed the Assembly, as of Aug. 29.

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If SB 320 becomes law, California would be the first state to mandate that medication abortions be available as part of basic university student health services. Only two universities surveyed in the 2015 American College Health Association PAP & STI Survey provided medication abortions at their health centers.

The University of Illinois at Chicago is one example. Its student health center started providing medication abortions in 2006.

Medication abortions cost about $600 out-of-pocket, according to an August study about the California measure that was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. If provided on-campus, they would not be free, but the cost might be reduced.

"While it is not yet known how much students would pay for an on-campus medication abortion, the costs are likely to be the same or lower than those going to an off-campus clinic," the study stated.

Those costs would be handled the same as other student health services, according to Sergio Reyes, communications director for state Sen. Connie Leyva, who introduced the bill.

"Medication abortion services at student health centers could be paid for the way any other basic health care on campus is covered," Reyes said. "Some options that are available to student health centers are for them to bill Medi-Cal, charge a fee for service, cover it through student fees or by contracting with a community provider who comes to campus and handles the billing."

Initial costs for preparing student health centers to administer medication abortions would be privately funded, according to the text of the bill.

From those private funds, grants of up to $200,000 would be administered to student health centers to pay for the equipment and training needed to be able to perform medication abortions by 2022.

Separate $200,000 grants would fund telehealth services, services to bill insurance and Medi-Cal and a 24-hour hotline for people who have had a medication abortion at a student health center.

"SB 320 aims to have private grants pay for the cost to get each student health center ready to provide this service, but is not prescriptive in how each student health center decides to fund it on an ongoing basis," Reyes said. He added that student health centers are already responsible for covering all operating costs of th health centers, and that the only additional cost would be the medication, at approximately $60 to$70 dollars per pill.

Reyes said that a person seeking a medication abortion must first meet with a health care provider, who determines the age of the pregnancy.

Our ruling

The Your News Wire headline said, "California lawmakers are planning to push free abortion pills on all students across the state as part of a ‘super progressive’ new policy."

While the California Legislature is moving toward mandating on-campus medication abortion services, that’s quite a bit different than "pushing" abortion pills on "all students across the state." The bill only applies to college health centers.

The cost will not be free like the Your News Wire headline states, but will be billed the same way as other college health services. We also found the article's photo of a soccer team — featuring young girls with braces and pigtails — extremely misleading. 

We rate this claim Mostly False.

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Mostly False
"California lawmakers are planning to push free abortion pills on all students across the state as part of a ‘super progressive’ new policy."
in a blog post
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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Deceptive Facebook post distorts California proposal on abortion med

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