Posts Tagged “Birth Control”
Over 700 students signed a petition to the University last Thursday calling for contraceptive coverage in the student health plans for the coming academic year. The letter was jointly signed by law student Sandra Fluke and Georgetown’s Law Students for Reproductive Justice. This action followed a similar petition from the Law Center’s faculty, in which 66 members of the law faculty urged President John J. DeGioia to reconsider the current health plan.
According to to the letter, undergraduate student movements for contraception are forming, but a response from undergraduates has yet to be seen. H*yas for Choice could not be reached for comment on their potential plans to collaborate with Fluke or LSRJ on further petitions or actions to demand contraception for students.
Kelly Percival, Georgetown law student and member of LSRJ, told Vox in an email: “We are working with H*yas for Choice, Georgetown Med Students for Choice, as well as a group of students from Georgetown’s business school to collect signatures on similar petitions. We hope that the university chooses to listen to our student voices by not unnecessarily delaying contraception coverage until 2013.”
The University consistently remained resolute on the issue since Fluke’s testimony to Congress earlier this year. In a letter released to the Washington Post last Friday, DeGioia wrote to a law professor that “We do not intend to change Georgetown’s longstanding practice of excluding contraceptive coverage for the purposes of birth control from its student health insurance offerings unless explicitly required to do so by law.”
Georgetown law professor M. Gregg Bloche, who wrote an Op-Ed in the Huffington Post on the faculty petition and the University’s response, wrote in an email to Vox:
The law now requires that Georgetown’s health plan for students cover contraception – by next year at the latest. I’m confident that the University will honor President DeGioia’s commitment (and our legal obligation). Though the University might, in theory, be able to put this off until 2013, I very much hope that we act this year.
On August 1, all health care insurance providers will be required to cover contraception in their plans. Since religious colleges and universities may apply for a one-year extension, law students hope that the petition will force the University to change the health plan earlier. However, rumblings from law students and faculty fail to convince the University, as of yet, to act upon the laws any earlier than mandated.
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Friday March 2, Georgetown University President John DeGioia sent an email to the Georgetown community commending law student Sandra Fluke for her civil discourse about birth control and criticizing the media for the personal attacks against her. A few weeks ago, Fluke testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the university’s student health insurance’s refusal to cover a fellow student’s birth control to manage her polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Since then, Fluke has been the object of personal attacks from pundits like Rush Limbaugh, who called her a slut for using birth control.
DeGioia’s message is below.
March 2, 2012
Dear Members of the Georgetown Community:
There is a legitimate question of public policy before our nation today. In the effort to address the problem of the nearly fifty million Americans who lack health insurance, our lawmakers enacted legislation that seeks to increase access to health care. In recent weeks, a question regarding the breadth of services that will be covered has focused significant public attention on the issue of contraceptive coverage. Many, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have offered important perspectives on this issue.
In recent days, a law student of Georgetown, Sandra Fluke, offered her testimony regarding the proposed regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services before a group of members of Congress. She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction. She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression. And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position – including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels – responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.
In our vibrant and diverse society, there always are important differences that need to be debated, with strong and legitimate beliefs held on all sides of challenging issues. The greatest contribution of the American project is the recognition that together, we can rely on civil discourse to engage the tensions that characterize these difficult issues, and work towards resolutions that balance deeply held and different perspectives. We have learned through painful experience that we must respect one another and we acknowledge that the best way to confront our differences is through constructive public debate. At times, the exercise of one person’s freedom may conflict with another’s. As Americans, we accept that the only answer to our differences is further engagement.
In an earlier time, St. Augustine captured the sense of what is required in civil discourse: “Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.”
If we, instead, allow coarseness, anger – even hatred – to stand for civil discourse in America, we violate the sacred trust that has been handed down through the generations beginning with our Founders. The values that hold us together as a people require nothing less than eternal vigilance. This is our moment to stand for the values of civility in our engagement with one another.
John J. DeGioia
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Update 2:41 p.m.: Vox has been looking into some of the claims Plan A made at today’s rally. Their claim that Georgetown has one of the highest rates of sexual assaults among college campuses appears to be false. In a November 2008 column, Kate Mays quoted Georgetown’s Health Education Services Sexual Assault and Health Issues Coordinator Jen Schweer as saying that the number of students at Georgetown who have experienced sexual assaults, an estimated one in four, is consistent with national averages. My notes from a conversation I had with Schweer for a column I wrote this fall say the same.
3:57: Their claim that Georgetown’s health plan for faculty members covers birth control while the student plan does not cover it is correct. Birth control for faculty can be covered under some plans, according to documents (pdf) on the University website, including the preferred drugs list (pdf) at Benefits.Georgetown.edu. (Thanks to commenter Interesting for the docs!)
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A handful of students from Plan A Hoyas gathered in Healy Circle today with bullhorns and neon signs to bring their message prospective students wandering campus for GAAP weekend. With chants like “hey, hey, ho, ho, censorship has got to go,” and “Hey Georgetown, whaddya say, do what’s right, enact Plan A,” members shouted their demands and told groups of passing high school students and their parents what they felt Georgetown lacked in reproductive justice. The protesters moved to Red Square after being asked by Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord and Associate Director for Student Programs Bill McCoy to abide by Georgetown’s speech and expression policy.
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Might as well get this party started by saying, it’s about time the government caved and let us have all the consequence-free unprotected sex we want (except for the danger of, y’know, AIDS ‘n stuff). The FDA’s decision on Thursday to permit over-the-counter sales of Plan B birth control to women (and men) over 18, while not actually meant for drunken promgoers who forgot the Trojans, has been a long time coming and makes sense no matter which side of the abortion debate you’re on. And for those worried about the promiscuous behavior angle, the price ($25-40 per dose) still makes wearing a raincoat to bed (and even shelling out a few extra bucks for the ‘extra-pleasure’ ones) worth it.
What’s likely to be disappointing, though, is Georgetown’s reaction. The school’s arcane opposition to contraceptives (as if that ever stopped your roommate from sending you to the couch six Saturdays in a row) and birth control should be a hint that the hospital pharmacy might be Plan N for finding this stuff, as in ‘Never gonna happen.’ Should these policies change? Absolutely. Will they? Don’t get your hopes up, especially not with a lot more noise out of students.
Posted by Mike Stewart, Features Editor
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