Wednesday, November 30, 2011
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.
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
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: http://www.knowmoresaymore.
Thanks again to DVAC for their willingness to co-sponsor LSRJ's reproductive health care event.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
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.
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.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.*