(U-WIRE) PROVIDENCE, R.I. ? In a controversial move, Yale University announced this month that it plans to offer the abortion pill RU-486 under its standard health plan.
The drug known as Mifeprestone and marketed under the brandname Mifeprex induces a miscarriage when taken in the first seven weeks of pregnancy.
Yale University Health Services already offers the ?morning after? pill and offers surgical abortions under its health plan for students and staff.
Some students and activist groups like the Yale Pro-Life league have already complained that RU-486 should not be offered through the university?s health plan, which draws funds from student tuition.
Yale spokesman Thomas Conroy dismissed these concerns as unrealistic.
?Health insurance patients who are receiving care through a health facility through an insurance plan do not pick and choose which services are available from that provider,? Conroy said.
?A male patient is never going to need the services of obstetrics and gynecology,? Conroy said. ?But that?s the whole philosophy of insurance ? that the group supports it so that no single person is burdened,?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved RU-486 by prescription only in September because it is considered to be safer than surgical abortions.
RU-486 has been available in Europe since 1988 and more than 600,000 European women have undergone medical abortions using the drug.
Most university health centers will not dispense RU-486 in the near future. But the possibility of offering RU-486 has not been ruled out for the future, according to Dr. Edward Wheeler, co-director of Brown Health Services.
Wheeler said that physicians who dispense RU-486 must be skilled in reading ultrasounds and measuring the size of the uterus to determine how far along a woman is in her pregnancy ? procedures Brown is not equipped for.
Doctors must also be prepared to handle any complications that may arise from medical abortion, such as heavy bleeding, he said.
?We would have no objection to carrying RU-486, but we?d have to convince ourselves that we could handle it if complications arose,? Wheeler said.
Conroy said Yale has all the necessary resources to carry out its procedures safely.
Harvard University will reimburse students who receive the abortion drug at local hospitals, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Brown will continue to facilitate making appointments for students seeking an abortion and provide counseling both before and after the procedure.