Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Pregnant, But Not Powerless

If there’s anything that every woman at Georgetown can recognize, it’s the white sticker staring her down as she takes care of business in nearly every stall on campus. This small sticker asks one terrifying question: “Pregnant?”

While the goal behind the sticker is to assuage the fears of students who may be pregnant by providing contact information for Pregnancy Services, it isn’t always what a student wants to read on a Sunday morning. And for a campus grounded in Catholic tradition, whose institutional positions on sex and contraception are firmly established, it’s no surprise that Jane Hoya can’t even pee without the issue of pregnancy staring her down.

Pregnancy Services, which operates under the umbrella of Health Education Services, facilitates the needs of pregnant students. It promises safe and confidential care ranging from counseling and spiritual support to housing.

The Women’s Center also offers pregnancy resources, including free pregnancy testing, counseling references and a library with relevant information.

Annual forums on pregnancy sponsored by GU Right to Life work to dispel some of the questions that pregnant students may ask themselves at a Catholic university – including fears of expulsion, parental notification, social stigma and eviction from dormitories. In fact, Title IX made it illegal for universities to discriminate against pregnant or parenting students, and schools are required to allow pregnant students to take a medical leave of absence with the assurance of reinstatement upon return.

Representatives from Health Education Services say that no student will be expelled for becoming pregnant – nor placed on mandatory academic probation, for that matter – and that a student’s parents would never be notified by the university regarding their health or sexual status. While the university does advise that a dormitory is not the best place for a mother-to-be, a student would never be forced to leave her residence.

When new mom, newborn and New South don’t make for a great fit, the Northwest Center and Maternity Home in Adams Morgan provides services and housing for young pregnant and parenting women. Founded by Georgetown alumni and students in 1983, it has helped over 29,000 women and children in Washington, D.C., according to its Web site.

“Our center is about preaching the Gospel without words,” Northwest Center Director Jennifer Graves says.

The Northwest Maternity Home townhouse, endowed by private donors, is equipped to house a sizeable group of student mothers and their children. In 2004, the center provided 1,000 pregnant women with counseling and material aid.

“The Northwest Maternity Home is a non-judgmental, non-political, non-denominational center,” says Susan Gallucci (CAS ’96), the home’s director. “It is important at the university level because pregnancy in college creates a whole set of different issues – living in dorms with morning sickness and roommates who are up all night – that isn’t healthy for mother or baby.”

Students who need more information about family planning services and emergency contraception, which the university does not offer, often look to the student group H*yas for Choice.

“Georgetown does what it can. The problem is that they are blatantly turning a blind eye towards students who don’t choose abstinence and who don’t choose pregnancy. That’s where H*yas for Choice fits in,” says Molly Tafoya (COL ’07), a HFC board member. “Without H*yas for Choice, the Georgetown community would be without valuable information and resources.”

Whatever decision a pregnant student ultimately makes, Right to Life and H*yas for Choice both try to address the needs of any unexpectedly pregnant student. That should save a lot of Hoyas some anxiety the next time they enter the ladies room.

“The pregnancy test is just the first step,” Gallucci says. “We’re here to help women explore the options – and help them make decisions they want to make.”

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