Students frustrated with changes to birth control access – The Hawk Newspaper


A controversy over the availability of birth control during the University of Science’s merger with St. Joe’s on June 1 has fueled anger among some science students.

Although USciences students may have received prescribed birth control through USciences Student Health and Counseling Services (SHAC), this will no longer be the case after the merger.

Students currently receiving contraceptive from SHAC were alerted to the change in an April 7 email from SHAC. The email cited “Catholic doctrine, which they strictly adhere to” as the reason for the change.

“I am contacting you to let you know that effective 6/1/2022, Student Health will no longer be permitted to prescribe or dispense birth control pills, any form of contraception, or condoms once we merge with SJU on 6 /1”, Read email.

The email was sent to “a very small number of students,” according to Amy Lipton, Ph.D., professor of finance and chair of the St. Joe’s Faculty Senate, who raised the issue at a Senate meeting on April 25.

The Hawk reached out to Barbara Siebert, DNP, director of SHAC as well as Edward Foote, PharmD, dean of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and professor of clinical pharmacy, and Ross Radish, JD, vice president of student affairs and dean of students. None of the people responded to requests for information.

Gabrielle Lacherza, associate director of public relations at St. Joe’s, said St. Joe’s would not release further information about the situation.

“The email was intended to be private correspondence between a healthcare provider and their patient,” Lacherza wrote. “Therefore, we will not provide any further details.”

At St. Joe’s, students who request birth control are referred to an outside provider, gynecologist or local health center, according to Eileen Bevilacqua, RN, director of St. Joe’s Student Health Center.

“Saint Joseph Student Health Centers operate as a supplement to, not a replacement of, a student’s relationship with their health care provider,” Bevilacqua wrote in response to written questions from The Hawk. “Family planning, birth control and prescriptions are personal and private conversations between the student and their provider.”

The SHAC email stated that SHAC would provide science students in the United States who are currently on birth control with six months or a year of birth control to “carry them until they can get birth control.” and gynecological care from their private or local gynecological provider. Parenthood. The email recommends the local Planned Parenthood located at 1144 Locust St. in Philadelphia.

“They provide excellent care and comprehensive GYN services to everyone on a confidential basis,” the email from SHAC read. “They will provide you with contraceptives and gynecological care if you cannot use your family health insurance for these services.” A student at USciences, who asked not to be named for confidentiality reasons, said he grew up in a home where there was negative stigma around birth control. The student, who said she started birth control specifically for acne, said the issue of SHAC losing birth control poses an accessibility issue.

“If you don’t want your parents to know you’re taking birth control, you can’t get it on insurance because they’ll find out.” said the student. “It’s going to be a difficult conversation. And again, it’s all about cost because off-insurance birth control is expensive, especially when you first start it because [there’s] one in particular you don’t like, then you have to buy another one and you keep switching brands.

Planned Parenthood offers birth control packs that last one month for $0 to $50, according to the Planned Parenthood website. These packs can be free with insurance, or for those eligible for government programs. To be prescribed, the student must make an appointment. Birth control consultations can cost up to $96, which includes a birth control cycle at Locust Street Planned Parenthood. However, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance to cover most birth control-related doctor visits.

Locust Street Planned Parenthood is also the second closest family planning service to the current St. Joe location, the first being Upper Darby Health Center, which is operated by Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Dr. Sarah Gutman, Clinical Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, is an expert in complex family planning, reproductive justice, and health equity. Gutman said it’s important that college-aged students have access to reproductive health care like birth control, especially because birth control isn’t always just for contraception.

“Some people use birth control to treat irregular periods, for painful periods, for mood swings,” Gutman said. “People use birth control for things like acne, [and] people use birth control for things like abnormal uterine bleeding. There are many different reasons why people may be on birth control, and there are many different types of birth control that may be specifically better for one indication or another.

Some USciences students have been outspoken on the issue for the sake of communication and transparency at the university. Hailey Fry ’23, a pharmacy student, spoke at a USciences Town Hall on April 22 about student concerns about access to birth control.

“This email sent was not sent to the entire university,” Fry told The Hawk. “So there it’s already a red flag telling us that they were hiding it. They were hiding the fact that SHAC was losing that privilege because they knew what was wrong and they knew the students were wrong. be happy.

Although Fry said she was not personally affected by the issue, she said she felt the need to speak up for those who might not be able to speak up for themselves, or for those who do not currently have a birth control prescription but may need one. the future.

“We have to defend the underclass who don’t quite have the guts to say ‘hey, that’s not right,’ yet,” Fry said. “I didn’t come here because I wanted to follow Catholic doctrine. I came here because I wanted to be treated like a health care professional and learn about health care and have those basic rights.


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