Yale students facing unwanted pregnancies will now be able to obtain the controversial abortion pill RU-486 through their student health care plan, while those at Harvard seeking the same treatment await a decision from University Health Services (UHS).
Legal in Europe since 1988 and approved by the Federal Drug Association on Sept. 29, 2000, RU-486 works by inducing a miscarriage and requires three different visits to a doctor over a two-week period.
Yale University Health Services (YUHS) introduced its policy last month. Officials say they are confident that doctors will be able to dispense the drug safely and effectively.
UHS is currently in the process of evaluating the drug and deciding on the ways it could be offered to students.
"Our anticipation is that we'll be able to work out a method that is appropriate and safe," said Dr. Christopher M. Coley, chief of medicine at UHS.
Doctors must decide whether the pill should be offered directly through UHS or through another health institution, such as Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Coley said Dr. M. Susan Schilling, who is affiliated with both UHS and Brigham and Women's, is exploring how the two institutions could cooperate in carrying out the treatment.
UHS does not currently perform surgical abortions on-site. Instead, students are referred to local clinics, and the procedure is partially subsidized through the Student Health Services fee.