Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Fordham Observer on whether there is a health exception in practice

Check out Harry Huggins' story in The Observer, Birth Control Policy Questioned:

When asked to provide the number of women prescribed birth control by the Health Center in the last five years, Director of Health Services Kathleen Malara declined to do so, saying that releasing the numbers would be a violation of student privacy. Student Press Law Center Consulting Attorney Mike Hiestand said that Fordham could share this information without violating any privacy laws, but that as a private institution it was not required to do so. 
In their dealings with the Health Center, neither Wolf nor Dunlap believed the nurse practitioners giving the exams were the people responsible for refusing to prescribe birth control. “As far as gynecological exams go, I think students should feel comfortable about going [to the Health Center],” Wolf said. “Everyone that works there was great and very professional.”
The LA Times reported on Fordham students with health issues who were denied treatment on campus as well.  Fordham LSRJ believes birth control is a fundamental part of women's health care, so we don't mean to overemphasize its use in the treatment of health conditions.  However, the fact that the University's statements regarding the Health Center policies are not reflective of the experiences of Fordham students is a serious problem:  in terms of both potential health consequences and what it says about the University's willingness to address the concerns of its students.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Democrats ask Issa to condem attacks on Sandra Fluke

I just received this from the oversight committee:

Dear Mr. Chairman:
        We are writing to ask that you, as the Chairman of the Oversight Committee, join us in a bipartisan manner to strongly condemn the recent statements by radio host Rush Limbaugh regarding Ms. Sandra Fluke, the third-year student at Georgetown law school whom we sought to have testify at the Committee’s hearing on contraceptives on February 16, 2012.
        As you know, Committee Democrats requested Ms. Fluke’s testimony to highlight the critical importance of insurance coverage for preventive health care, including contraceptives, to millions of women across the country. Letter from Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings to Chairman Darrell E. Issa, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Feb. 15, 2012) (online at http://democrats.oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5624:the-voice-the-gop-didnt-want-you-to-hear&catid=3:press-releases&Itemid=49).  After you refused to allow Ms. Fluke to testify before our Committee, she appeared before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and she conducted herself with intelligence, dignity, and sincerity. See Sandra Fluke Finally Testifies Before Congress, Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (Feb. 23, 2012) (online at http://democrats.oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5627:sandra-fluke-finally-testifies-before-congress&catid=3:press-releases&Itemid=49).
        Yesterday’s statements by Rush Limbaugh were a vicious assault, not only against Ms. Fluke but against women across the country who rely on birth control and want it covered by their health insurance policies.  The pill has had a profound impact on their well-being, allowing them to control their lives, make very personal decisions about how many children to have and when to have them, and in some cases treat critical illnesses.
        As the Chairman of the Committee that first attempted to silence Ms. Fluke and prevent her from testifying, you are in a unique position to speak out now on her behalf and to join us in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, this very public and very malicious attack on all women who share her views.
        Thank you for considering this request.

Limbaugh attacks Sandra Fluke

After conversations about me testifying before the oversight committee, the Democrats initially decided against having a student because they expected the Republicans to be really nasty.   At first I thought I could take it, thanks to my experience being personally attacked by internet Catholics.  Then it occurred to me that they were worried about a student being called a whore in public, which I had to admit would be pretty awful.   
I'm so grateful for Sandra's bravery.  The attacks on her show that, though the Republicans keep absurdly repeating the talking point that "this isn't about contraception" it absolutely is - as a means to control and punish women.