SGA discusses birth control

SGA discusses birth control

The SGA passed a resolution Wednesday recommending that the Student Health Center increase student access to birth control.

The bill’s intent and purpose reads: “To recommend to University leadership that the code and conduct of the Student Health Center be amended to allow for the prescription of birth control, per any request, and not solely for “anti-ovulatory” purposes.” The SGA will have no authority to enforce the suggested changes. Rather, they will approach SLU administrators with the resolution, who will then be given a month to respond. “This is a resolution. It’s more like a suggestion,” said Senator Luella Loseille.

SGA hopes the resolution will catalyze a conversation between the student body and the administration on student access to contraception at a Catholic university — a conversation that, according to some, is long overdue. “50 percent of our students are Catholic. Sixty percent of our students are women. It is not my place to deny students access to these medications,” said SGA Senator Jason Maddox.

Much of the debate on the senate floor revolved around two issues: women’s rights to reproductive healthcare and women’s rights to reproductive healthcare at a Catholic institution. Though the senators echoed each other in support of the former, some voices were at odds when it came to the latter. “It is the position of the Catholic Church that contraception is amoral, that premarital sex is amoral, and the Catholic Church will not aid and abet that,” said President Elect Dan Carter.

SGA Chaplain Fr. Don Highberger and Vice President for Student Development Kent Porterfield echoed these sentiments, reminding the room that SLU’s Catholic status is decisive in matters of church doctrine. In this case, practitioners at Student Health are held to certain standards as employees of a Catholic university. “Where do we draw the line between what the church says and what we do as a university?” asked Senator Noelle Janak. “And why do we draw that line differently depending on the issue?”

Co-authors of the bill, first-year student Annie Bryan and Senator Shanaya Shah, claimed that their own negative experiences with SLU Student Health largely influenced their decision to draft the bill. According to several members of senate, it is not uncommon for Student Health to ask students to lie on their medical records in order to obtain medication. “I support this bill, because I support women. And in the 21st century I should not have to lie to my physician,” said Senator Emily Bley. “All this is asking for is transparency in our student health conduct.”

According to the text of the bill, “the SLU Student Health Center does not prescribe hormonal contraception to students unless they state they will only be using it as a menstrual aid.”

As a result of this policy, many women will lie on their medical records in order to obtain the prescriptions they need. Thanks to these lies and the variety of contraceptive medications available, SLU physicians may be prescribing pills that have unforeseen side effects, according to Vice President for Student Organizations Devon McDaniel.

Simply, these dealings could have detrimental effects on the bodies of female students. “Maybe we as a Senate can have a hand in dismantling that oppressive institution,” said Bley.

Many students blatantly criticized the bill’s practicality, though. Loseille, one of seven senators to vote against the bill, wondered what steps the SGA would take “when the administration says no.” “I had to vote it down, because I know that SLU is going to say no,” said Loseille. “And if we keep aggravating [administrators], then the voice of SGA becomes less influential.”

Porterfield suggested that SGA was skipping a step by bypassing conversations with the Student Health Center and, instead, putting the issue straight to paper.

“We could’ve done this without a resolution,” agreed Vice President of Internal Affairs Jay Hardin. “As senators, we do more than what happens in this chamber. I wish there would’ve been more research and more conversations with the administration.”

President Kevin Lynch will notify the affected parties of the bill’s passing.

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