Wednesday, February 29, 2012

12 & Delaware screening today!

Movie Screening and Discussion 
Tasty snacks from Kashkaval will be served!
Wednesday, February 29th
4:00 - 6:15 in Room 303

Following the movie, a discussion will be led by Fordham LSRJ board members and David Benzaquen, Political & Legislative Action Coordinator from NARAL Pro-Choice New York.  Contact us at with any questions.

The seemingly sleepy intersection of Delaware Ave. and 12th St. in Fort Pierce, Fla. is ground zero for the ferocious abortion rights battle raging in America.  On one corner stands an abortion clinic; across the street is the Pregnancy Care Center, a pro-life outpost dedicated to heading off abortion seekers at the pass.

12TH & DELAWARE provides a compelling, fly-on-the-wall view of the ideological trench warfare that takes place daily at this crossroads, where women struggle to deal with unwanted pregnancy.  Directed by Oscar® nominees Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's ("Jesus Camp"), 12TH & DELAWARE puts viewers in the middle of this intractable conflict. 

An official selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, 12TH & DELAWARE is the latest documentary from Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, who also directed 2006's "Jesus Camp," which was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature.  Their other credits include "Rehab for Terrorists,"  "Freakonomics:  The Movie" and the award-winning "The Boys of Baraka."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Movie Screening - Wednesday, February 29 at 4:00

Come to our movie screening and discussion event this Wednesday at 4:00 in Room 303!

We will be watching 12th & Delaware, a documentary that tells the story of an abortion clinic and a crisis pregnancy center located across the street from each other, and includes interviews of the staff and patients of both organizations. Following the movie, a discussion will be led by Fordham LSRJ board members and David Benzaquen, Political & Legislative Action Coordinator from NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

Yummy Kashkaval food will be served! We look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Indicting a Ham Sandwich

Jodi Jacobson has a great piece at RH Reality Check addressing the comparisons, strangely popular among Catholic birth control opponents, between non-discriminatory health services that include contraceptive care and Jews serving pork.  Fordham Law alumna Sara Yood had this to say in response to one such example in the New York Times article that reported on the birth control situation at Fordham:

To the Editor: 
As both a Jew and a graduate of Fordham Law School, I found Mr. Galligan-Stierle's comments equating access to birth control at a Catholic university to access to pork at a kosher barbecue offensive and insensitive.  How cavalier of him to assume that students choose universities with a full understanding of how the school's religious policies - or any other policy - may affect the availability of the healthcare and medications on which they depend.  I chose Fordham because of its superb reputation, expertise in my desired field, and prime location, not knowing how difficult it would be to get access to the reproductive care that is my right.  I don't know if I would have made a different decision had I been better informed, but at least I would have been prepared for the hundreds of dollars I paid for access to reproductive care while enrolled at Fordham.

Sara E. Yood 
Fordham Law School, J.D. 2011

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Testimony Sandra Didn't Get to Give and Fordham LSRJ's Statement for the Record

The House Oversight Committee refused to let Sandra Fluke of Georgetown LSRJ testify as a minority witness at today's ridiculously titled hearing, "Lines Crossed:  Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?"

You can read Sandra's excellent statement here.  We are with you Georgetown women!

This is the statement Fordham LSRJ submitted for the hearing record:

Putting the men in "Women's Health"

We are students of the Fordham University School of Law in New York City.  Fordham is a Jesuit-affiliated university, however, our student health insurance covers contraception as required by New York State law.  The New York Women’s Health and Wellness Act was passed in 2002 with the goal of promoting women's health and ending gender discrimination.  From our perspective here at Fordham, the suggestion that requiring the non-discriminatory prescription coverage we already enjoy is some kind of new and unprecedented encroachment on religious freedom seems strange and disingenuous.  

The New York law is not a violation of religious freedom.  Fordham didn’t have to go out of business or stop providing prescription coverage.  Our institution was able to accept that religiously affiliated entities that want to sell products in the marketplace like insurance and federally subsidized education must meet the same quality standards as non-religious organizations.

Unfortunately, even though we have contraception coverage thanks to the protections of New York state law, Fordham students still do not have access to affordable contraception.  This is because our health centers, where students with University insurance are meant to receive our primary and gynecological care, will not prescribe contraception.  So, whether a student needs contraception to prevent pregnancy, treat a medical condition or both – she has to pay a $100 deductible to visit a doctor off-campus for a prescription – even if she already underwent a gynecological exam on-campus in the mistaken belief that Fordham provided standard care.  One hundred dollars on top of a monthly copayment is a significant barrier to practicing contraception for a student living on loans.  

The experiences of women at Fordham show that though health exemptions from birth control bans may seem workable in theory, they are not in practice.  The Fordham health centers tell us they have a health exception, but students report being turned away despite medical conditions, some of them quite dangerous or painful.  Students have been refused contraception despite having endometriosis, severe acne, ovarian cysts, and high risk of ovarian cancer.

After hearing the stories from many women affected by the no-birth control policy, we decided we needed to address the lack of access to affordable contraception.  Last November, our student group, the Fordham Chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, organized a one night off-campus clinic so students could obtain birth control prescriptions.  Over forty students met with doctors and around one hundred students came out to show their support.  We are extremely grateful for the doctors who provided us treatment free of charge, but it is unfortunate that though we pay $2,300 to $2,400 per year for insurance we have to take up volunteer resources that should go to women who lack insurance and financial resources.

At the clinic, we had the opportunity to talk with smart, thoughtful undergraduates from Fordham’s Bronx and Manhattan campuses.  Undergraduates told us in person and in their exit surveys that access to contraception was a problem for them and they wished we had advertised the clinic on their campuses.  The impact of the University’s policies on the undergraduates, which I suspect may be even greater than that on the law students, is in fact a major concern driving our efforts.  It is extremely important for young women to be able to access comprehensive medical care without feeling judged or censored, regardless of whether they are having sex or plan to anytime soon.  Conversation and information help young women to anticipate and make decisions about what kind of sexual experiences they want to have and when.  Sex should be something a woman chooses because she wants it, not something that happens to her; a culture of secrecy and denial of the fact that some students are sexually active is not creating the conditions for that.

Our efforts to improve contraceptive access at Fordham have been met with various iterations of “you should have known” or “it’s you own fault for going to a Catholic school.”  This is a problematic idea for a number of reasons.  It inaccurately paints Catholics and Catholic institutions as monolithically rigid, unreasonable and beholden to the Vatican.  Catholic institutions can and do embrace people of varying beliefs, religions, sexual orientations and cultures.  Fordham University could not attract the caliber of students and faculty it does if it did not.  The implication that no Catholic-affiliated institution would provide standard health care or put policies in place that aren’t papally-approved, such as allowing LGBTQ student groups on campus or providing benefits to the same-sex partners of faculty members or funding scholarship contrary to Catholic doctrine, is inaccurate and offensive.  It rests on stereotypes of Catholics and ignores the fact that students contract with a particular institution, not a religious hierarchy. 

On the other hand, our work to get Fordham women the healthcare they need has also been met with an extraordinary outpouring of support.  Fordham students thank us for fighting for them and send their stories, professors tell us they are proud, and alumni of Fordham and other Catholic universities email their encouragement and advice.  

We sincerely believe that the medical personnel at our health centers would like to provide the care that is most appropriate for their patients.  We also believe that Fordham and other Catholic-affiliated institutions would like to do what is in the best interests of their students and employees.  However, Catholic-affiliated institutions are subject to significant pressures from influential groups off-campus that purport to speak for Catholics but may not represent the views of Catholic educational institutions, their students or employees.  Given this reality, we need laws that require equality in health care access.  Our experience at Fordham shows that religiously-affiliated institutions can comply with laws that protect a woman’s individual conscience and simultaneously promote their values and further their missions.  

Bridgette Dunlap
Emily Wolf
Fordham University School of Law
Fordham Chapter, Law Students for Reproductive Justice