Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fox News Interview

Check us out on Fox News.

Our Agenda

Be sure to sign the petition tonight!

I support Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice in their efforts to:

1. Insist that the University provide notice of its policies regarding the prescription of contraception at Fordham health centers on the website where it can be easily located by students prior to purchasing Fordham health insurance or seeking services at a Fordham health center;
2.  ensure there is a health exception to this policy in practice;
3.  insist that the University provide documentation, on its website and in the student handbooks, of the University's policy regarding the
distribution of condoms on its campuses; and
4.  organize alternative avenues for students to procure birth
control and condoms.

The History of Women at Fordham Law

I was explaining yesterday that the reason we are causing all this trouble is that we love Fordham Law School and want it to be a great place for women in every way. This reminded me of Dean Martin's introductory speech at V-day last year. After he spoke I told him we should put it on the website. He handed me his notes. Now that we're bloggin', here's some history you should know:

Thank you for inviting me to speak before tonight's performance of The Vagina Monologues. This dramatic work is an important part of the larger V-Day movement, and we at Fordham Law are proud of the initiatives of the Fordham Law Women, Fordham OUTLaws, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, and other student groups that are helping stop violence against women and girls.

I wanted to say a few brief words about the history of women at Fordham Law and acknowledge some of the courageous, pathbreaking individuals who have helped create and nurture a tradition of inclusion and diversity here at the Law School.

On September 22, 1918, Fordham Law School placed an unprecedented advertisement in the New York Times. "Courses Open to Women," the ad stated. Three years later, three women graduated from Fordham Law. Their names were Patricia O'Connell, Mildred O'Connor, and Ella Ralston. Ralston graduated with the highest standing in her section and was the first Fordham Law woman to pass the New York State Bar.

In 1924, Ruth Whitehead Whaley became the first African-American woman to graduate from Fordham Law and the first African-American woman to be admitted to the New York bar.

Ten years later, Mildred Fischer served as editor-in-chief of the Fordham Law Review—the first woman to do so.

Lucille Buell, Class of 1947, graduated first in her class and became the first Fordham Law woman to break into the high-powered Wall Street ranks when she was hired by Hughes, Hubbard & Reed. Twenty-five years later, Buell would return to Fordham Law to become one of the first full-time women faculty members. Her colleague, Sheila Birnbaum, was the first woman to gain tenure at the Law School.

It is clear that the history of women at Fordham Law is a history of fortitude and excellence. And this success will endure, as future women graduates continue to look up to alumni like Geraldine Ferraro, the country's first female Vice Presidential candidate, and Judge Loretta Preska, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

My thanks again to all the hardworking student groups that have contributed their time and talents to the V-Day movement. Their fundraising efforts for the V-Day 2011 campaign, as well as charities such as Safe Horizon, have been phenomenal.

I hope you all enjoy tonight's performance.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A message from our friends working on the federal issue: Rally to save birth control in NYC on Thursday

Rally to Save Birth Control!

Health care reform will let many women access birth control without copay.

But the White House might be caving to pressure from ultraconservative forces. Women whose bosses oppose birth control are at risk of having that coverage taken away.

Join NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Planned Parenthood of NYC, the New York Civil Liberties Union, NOW-NYC Sistersong NYC, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and others on Thursday for an emergency rally at the federal building in Manhattan, which houses the Health and Human Services regional office, to send a message to the White House that all women should have access to affordable birth control regardless of where they work!

Rally to Save Birth Control
This Thursday, December 1
12-1:30 pm
Outside the Federal Building

The Obama administration is being flooded with calls and letters from people who oppose birth control. We must send a message that caving to this extreme position is not an option.

Can't make it to the rally? Follow the rally on Twitter under #NY4BC and tweet your message to HHS - we'll write your message on a sign for all to see.

Why Fordham's Domestic Violence Action Center is co-sponsoring the clinic and health fair

I want to share a very thoughtful and informative email from Lee Brannon about why reproductive justice matters to Fordham's Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC):

To my mind, there are several reasons that people who are interested in advocacy for victims of domestic violence (or more broadly, gender-based violence) would be wise to make promoting reproductive health care access a priority.

Restricting birth control access is known to be a common part of the cycle of violence for people in abusive relationships. This can manifest as accusations that the victim of using birth control so as to conceal infidelity more easily, as the inflexible position that a woman's duty is to bear and raise children (which makes her more vulnerable and economically dependent, and gives the abuser pawns to use against her, thus making her easier to control), through the claim that birth control costs the abuser money that he is unwilling to spare, through the abuser's refusal to use condoms because he claims that they interfere with his sexual satisfaction, or through the abuser's refusal to allow the victim the opportunity to go to the doctor for birth control, to name a few. Blocking access to birth control or reproductive health care limits a person's agency in making decisions about her body, exposes her to greater risk of pregnancy or STIs, isolates her from medical professionals who might identify signs of abuse and offer her help, and renders her more susceptible to continued violence.

Restricting access to reproductive health care can go far beyond simple birth control access. It can include refusing to let a victim get testing or treatment for STIs, using a victim's medical status as a basis for isolation and abuse (e.g., "you have herpes because you're a dirty whore and no one else will ever want you"), preventing access to gynecological care generally, and/or interfering with medical treatment for painful reproductive system-related conditions, such as endometriosis, pre-menstrual dysphoria disorder (PMDD), or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). A person whose physical and/or mental health is suffering because of barriers to medical care for reproductive system-related conditions may be more dependent on an abusive partner, suffering direct pain from the condition and future negative health outcomes, and/or compromised in maintaining a job or schoolwork, with the negative economic effects that follow.

Young people under age 24 are the population at highest risk of domestic violence, sexual violence, AND unintended pregnancy and STI infection. College students have one of the highest rates of sexual violence of any demographic in the U.S. (something like 20% of college students report having been the victim of a sexual assault by the time they graduate). They therefore have among the highest needs for emergency contraception and STI testing following sexual assaults, which they may not be ready to report to police or counselors yet. (Needless to say, a person's need for EC and HIV prophylaxis is a physical reality not dependent on their willingness or ability to report sexual or physical violence). This reproductive health fair, aimed at college and young graduate students, is targeting a key demographic whose reproductive health care needs may flow directly from incidents of gender-based violence. It is moreover incorrect to assume that students in relative privilege face a negligible risk of domestic and/or sexual violence. Gender-based violence occurs across the socioeconomic spectrum, and undergraduate and graduate students commonly suffer from it.

Domestic violence has been correlated with adherence to restrictive gender roles and endorsing male supremacy. Reproductive justice is a major priority of feminist movements exactly because its absence both flows from and reinforces restrictive gender roles, creating direct economic problems for women unable to maintain control over when or whether to give birth and manifesting a culture of denying women the right to bodily integrity and ownership of their physical selves. In a very close parallel, the dynamics of domestic violence center around one person's claiming the right to own, control, violate, and exploit to their own ends the body and/or mind of another person.

I'm happy to clarify if any of this doesn't make sense. You may also find this website interesting for further links and references:

Thanks again to DVAC for their willingness to co-sponsor LSRJ's reproductive health care event.



Catholics for Choice tells Obama not to cave on women's health

An important message from our friends at Catholics for Choice.  Take a Catholics for Choice button or pamphlet off our bulletin board on the second floor.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


New York Institute of Technology
16 West 61st Street, 11th Floor

5:30-7:30, Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Contraception at Fordham: What We Know and What We Don’t

Dear Fellow Fordham Students,

No Fordham website or student handbook explicitly states that the health centers will not prescribe birth control.  Students generally learn this is the practice through word of mouth or upon visiting a health center in the mistaken belief that it provides standard medical care.  We often learn this only after purchasing health insurance through Fordham, which requires that students receive their primary healthcare on campus or incur extra costs. 

Members of our religiously diverse student body who are not knowledgeable about Catholic doctrine and its expression in healthcare have little reason to expect they will receive non-standard services.  Those who do anticipate this could be a problem are likely to be misled by the materials describing the health plan and health services, which mention only that contraception is covered per New York State law and that non-hormonal birth control is not covered.

The University has failed to provide written notice of its policies despite the fact that we first inquired about them over six months ago.  The director of the health centers has explained that students are informed of the policies, which she stated are not promulgated by a specific department at Fordham but come from the Pope, via a link to the Catholic Healthcare Directives in the FAQ section of the health centers’ website. 

The link is not sufficient notice of Fordham’s medical practices.  It is reasonable for a student to assume her yearly gynecological exam will include attention to both her reproductive and general health, in which case she would not have any issues that would lead her to the FAQs.

Furthermore, the Catholic Healthcare Directives do not describe any policies specific to Fordham.  It does not explain whether contraception is available to Fordham students at all or for reasons other than or in addition to preventing pregnancy, such as the treatment of ovarian cysts, endometriosis, dysmenorrhea, or acne.  We have been told it will be prescribed for properly documented medical conditions, but this does not appear to be true in practice.  Furthermore, we do not know what conditions apply, how severe they must be, or what documentation is required.

Students insured by Fordham may see a doctor outside of Fordham, but will incur a $100 deductible for this “condition” regardless of previous medical expenditures.  This means that women insured by Fordham are paying more for their health care than men.  We understand that this leads many students to seek health services at Planned Parenthood.  This is a good option given the situation, but it is unfortunate students must take up resources meant for low-income, uninsured individuals.

We have requested that Fordham clearly state its policies on its website where prospective students, insurance purchasers, and patients may easily consult them, preferably in the “Insurance” and “Women’s Health” sections of the website.  Our request was met with a vague response that the University would review its communications, but this has not resulted in any updates to the website.  They have declined to commit to making any changes or give us any time frame for completion of the review.

This affects every student as an issue of notice and respect.  Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice and Fordham Law Women have heard many stories from students affected by the policies or the lack of notice of them, but we would like to hear more.  Please email us at with stories, questions, and comments or if you would like to receive updates about this issue.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Clinic still on for Nov. 30th - but the location is TBA

Hi everyone,  welcome to the blog.  We lost our space but we are still on for the 30th and will update this space when we can announce the new location.

Prescribe Fordham!
Birth Control Clinic and Sexual Health Fair

Wednesday, November 30th, 5:30 - 8:00 pm

- free condoms!
- free birth control prescriptions!
- reproductive rights jeopardy!
- information on policies!

The Fordham chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and Fordham Law Women will host local health care providers from the Institute for Family Health to prescribe birth control to Fordham students and answer questions about sexual health. If you need a birth control prescription, all you need to do is have your medical history taken and your blood pressure checked by volunteer medical students and residents before you see the doctor. In a separate room, there will be snacks, free condoms, information and reproductive rights jeopardy! All are welcome - guys too! Regardless of your gender or orientation, please join us in solidarity to ensure Fordham students receive appropriate health care and stop by to show your support.

Contact with questions, comments or to share how you found out about or were affected by Fordham's non-standard healthcare policies.

*No SBA funds will be used for this off-campus event.*