Who’s using contraception? According to a study by Center for Disease Control, “Some 62% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method.” Women at Loyola University Chicago currently make up 66% of the enrolled student population. With more than half of Loyola’s students being females of reproductive age, you would think that access to contraception would be easy. Unfortunately, this is not the case at Loyola. It is my belief that the Wellness Center is the first place a student would visit to access contraception on campus, but will find that this service is currently not provided on campus.
According to the FAQs on the Wellness Center’s page on Loyola University Chicago’s website one question addresses contraception:
“Can I get a prescription for Oral contraceptives at the Wellness Center?
In keeping with the Catholic beliefs about family planning that are espoused by Loyola University Chicago, the Wellness Center does not provide oral contraceptives or other devices for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. Oral contraceptives are prescribed only for medical reasons other than birth control.”
While many students who chose Loyola University Chicago respect these Catholic beliefs and ideology, it seems unfair to deprive women of this healthcare service. When faced with this boundary, many students have lied about their reason for needing oral contraception as it can be prescribed for many other reasons, such as: acne control, menstrual cycle control, and hormone balancing.
When seeking other options many Loyola students have turned to the Planned Parenthood around the corner of campus. However this past summer, the Planned Parenthood on Broadway, which used to be steps away from Loyola has relocated from 6353 N Broadway to new location at 5725 N Broadway. The new location is a little over a twenty minute walk from campus or a 5 minute walk from the CTA Red Line stop, Bryn Mawr. Planned Parenthood continues to prove itself as the easiest, most affordable, and informative way for people to get trusted reproductive health care. In addition, to helping people explore their options and providing affordable health care, Planned Parenthood is also the nation’s largest provider of sex education. According to their website, “Planned Parenthood provides sexual and reproductive health care, education, information, and outreach to nearly five million women, men, and adolescents worldwide in a single year.” With only seven Planned Parenthood facilities in Chicago, this location is the only one that resides on Chicago’s North Side.
However, there is a group on campus not affiliated under Loyola’s Registered Student Organizations, named Students for Reproductive Justice that is making it easier for Loyola students to access contraception.
Walking around campus, I asked a few students what their thoughts were on the lack of contraception at Loyola.
Junior, Marissa Morton said, “I feel as though contraception is extremely important for people our age, especially students, and therefore should be available. But, I also believe a private university should not be required to have free contraception on campus if it doesn’t align with its values. Public universities fall under a different topic because it would depend on state laws if a university should be required to have free contraception for students.”
Another view from Spencer Egan is, “In terms of free contraception, I believe students should have the option to have access to contraceptive means to protect their sexual health. After all, Loyola’s fundamental pillar pertains to cura personalis or, “care for self”; and I believe contraceptives and sexual health fall under this guaranteed pillar for students that are part of the Loyola community and uphold the Loyola mission. “
For me, and many other students, these fours years of Undergraduate school are all about planning. I have a plan to pass all my classes this year. I have a plan to graduate on time. I have a plan for applying to graduate school. On a less serious note, I have a fitness plan. I have a plan for my responsibilities for my job and the organizations I’m a part of on campus. I even have a plan for what color I want to dye my hair next.
As young adults something as important as our reproductive/sexual health care should be a part of our plan too.