In a statement released last Thursday, Georgetown’s Law Students for Reproductive Justice condemned President John DeGioia for his recent email confirming the unchanging health insurance policy on contraception. Members of LSRJ expressed deep disapproval of the decision, claiming that the university administration had an obligation to meet in person with the students before sending out the email.
“We sincerely hoped that the university would extend us the courtesy of responding to our pleas face-to-face, rather than issuing a blanket, campus-wide email on an issue that affects so many students. Instead, they simply chose not to engage in dialogue with us,” Kelly Percival, law student and co-president of LSRJ, said.
Sandra Fluke, law student and co-president of LSRJ, condemned the decision in the statement as well, mentioning how the health plan led to the loss of her friend’s ovary. DeGioia’s email was a response to a recent petition signed by 700 students and sent to the University demanding contraceptive coverage before the mandated 2013 date.
Full statement below:
“Georgetown LSRJ is deeply disturbed to learn that Georgetown University President John DeGioia has decided not to comply with the final rule of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requiring comprehensive contraceptive coverage in 2012 student insurance. Georgetown could have complied by either fully implementing contraceptive coverage themselves or by simply stepping back and letting insurers fulfill their legal duty of providing this critical care to students directly without university involvement or funding.
We believe President DeGioia’s decision is an affront to the health concerns of the Georgetown student body. Georgetown LSRJ has extensively documented that Georgetown’s current policy does not adequately meet students’ medical needs for contraception. Sixty-five percent of surveyed students who reported attempting to use the ‘medical need only’ coverage reported barriers to actually receiving insurance reimbursement. Many students are unable to obtain coverage despite having doctor-verified medical needs such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. President DeGioia’s retort that students are free to purchase other insurance on the open market exposes a lack of understanding of how financially unfeasible that would be.
Unfortunately, President DeGioia never responded to our April 21 request for a meeting to discuss this critical issue. Having heard from almost 800 Georgetown University Law Center students and numerous members of the faculty through a campus-wide petition and through individual correspondence, and having been told that additional medical school, graduate, and undergraduate students were preparing petitions, we believe that it is disrespectful that President DeGioia, as the head of our university community, did not at least meet with students who have expressed legitimate and important concerns. Accordingly, Georgetown LSRJ remains open to a meeting with President DeGioia at any time.
Among our unanswered concerns, President DeGioia has yet to explain how covering contraception for faculty and staff but not for students is consistent with the Jesuit mission of Georgetown. In order to qualify for the HHS exemption allowing religiously-affiliated universities to delay contraception coverage until 2013, Georgetown must certify that it has a moral objection to contraception coverage. President DeGioia has yet to explain how Georgetown University plans to certify to the federal government that it has a moral objection to contraception coverage when it has long provided full contraception coverage for faculty and staff, excluding only students. We hoped to raise these and other issues at our meeting with him.”