University President John J. DeGioia announced Thursday that Georgetown will take advantage of a one-year delay offered by the Obama administration before adding contraceptive coverage to its student health insurance policy.
“After thoughtful and careful consideration, we will continue our current practice for contraceptive coverage in our student health insurance for the coming year, as allowed for under the current rules,” DeGioia wrote in an email to members of the Georgetown community.
The university’s policy will have to implement coverage for contraceptives by fall 2013 under the regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.
In the weeks prior to his decision, numerous student and university groups on both sides of the issue submitted letters to DeGioia requesting that he either delay or immediately implement coverage for contraceptives. Most recently, 780 students from the Georgetown University Law Center called on the university not to take advantage of the one-year grace period.
DeGioia acknowledged these requests in his announcement.
“I am grateful for the respectful ways in which you have shared your opinions,” he wrote. “I hope this is helpful in clarifying a matter of concern to many of you.”
H*yas for Choice President Kelsey Warrick (COL ’14) said the group plans to submit a petition from undergraduates asking DeGioia to change his stance.
“Obviously, H*yas for Choice is upset with President DeGioia’s decision,” she said. “The health and safety of the Georgetown community is at stake by deciding to defer.”
In contrast, Kieran Raval (COL ’13), who signed a letter asking the university to clarify its position earlier this month, was pleased with the announcement.
“I think it was important for President DeGioia to come out and say specifically, first of all, what the university health policy is, that it does cover [contraception] for therapeutic purposes,” he said. “I think it’s wise of him and the university to take the time and space that they’ve been granted to review how the regulation will affect Georgetown as a Catholic and Jesuit university.”
In response to DeGioia’s announcement, Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice issued a letter of its own. The group expressed concern with DeGioia’s decision and the fact that he did not meet with LSRJ.
“We believe President DeGioia’s decision is an affront to the health concerns of the Georgetown student body. … 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,” the letter read.
Sandra Fluke (LAW ’12), the former co-president of LSRJ and a subject of focus in the contraception debate since she testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in February, expressed her concern that this most recent decision might affect alumni donations. Fluke said that she would bear this announcement in mind when she is contacted to donate to the university.
“I’ll remember that in addition to how it felt the first time my friend told me that she was losing her ovary as a result of this policy,” she said.