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

Birth Control, Uncovered

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I selected Georgetown for graduate school because I thought it would offer me the best education – that does not mean the university has the right to make decisions about my health care and my body.

Recently, I went to my local pharmacy to fill my birth control prescription. When the pharmacist saw that I was a member of the Premier Plan offered by Georgetown University, she frowned and said, “I’m sorry, but Georgetown restricts reproductive services like birth control from its coverage. . That will be $89, please, for your medication.”

I immediately called UnitedHealthcare’s student number and learned that the university had negotiated with United to restrict birth control from its insurance plan. I asked if United could explain why the university had made this choice, and the representative said, “It’s all politics.” It’s all politics is right. The university may have a Jesuit tradition, but that does not give its officials the right to impose that tradition on its students.

I take birth control not only because I have sex, but because it helps to treat medical issues I have. I enrolled in the university’s health care plan because it was the only affordable option available to me, but now I am faced with nearly $100 monthly pharmacy bills to pay for my treatment. My father, a family doctor, suggested that I go to one of the Washington, D.C., branches of Planned Parenthood, where birth control is distributed for free to students who can prove they don’t have sufficient income. Even after paying nearly $2,000 for my health insurance, I now have to go across town to get the medication I need.

Of all the health care benefits female students need, reproductive services are no doubt one of our most important priorities. As young and healthy women, we are an inexpensive population to insure; most of us don’t need liver transplants, new kidneys or heart surgery. What we do need, however, is birth control, so that we can stay in school rather than drop out to struggle with unwanted pregnancies. We need birth control to treat other women’s health care needs, too. Unbelievably, it appears that in lieu of birth control, Georgetown would prefer that I accept its free pregnancy testing kits and educational counseling. In a 2002 interview with The Hoya, Director of Health Education Services Carol Day proudly declared, “We provide comprehensive pregnancy services such as free pregnancy testing kits, which is certainly beyond what most colleges offer.” I beg to differ and demand that the university begin to consider the costs of their policies to the lives of female students.

The university might consider any wavering in their contraceptive policy a slippery slope, but the reality is that these draconian policies jeopardize the health of our community.

We are living in Washington, D.C., not Kansas, a state where an abortion doctor was murdered this May. This is Georgetown University, a pluralistic and diverse community representing students of all faiths, traditions and ethnicities. It is one thing for the university to place crosses in classrooms; it is quite another for it to dictate how female students control their own bodies.

In 2002, women at The George Washington University won the right to contraceptive drugs after law school students filed a complaint that the university’s health insurance plan constituted gender discrimination under federal and District statutes. GWU women used the District of Columbia Human Rights Act and Title IX of the Federal Education Amendments of 1972 to demand the administration change their health insurance coverage. The Georgetown community must demand the same of our administration.

This is, quite frankly, an embarrassment to a progressive institution of higher learning like Georgetown. Now is a better time than ever to move this discussion from the editorial pages to the classrooms and into the administration. Let the conversation begin.

eghan Stringer is a student in the masters program in government, democracy and governance.

*To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [opinionthehoya.com](opinionthehoya.com). Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.*”

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