Fighting for Reproductive Rights on Catholic College Campuses
Students are headed back to school on university campuses across the country, and that means they are seeking healthcare services, including reproductive healthcare. Unfortunately, many students will find it difficult to access the reproductive healthcare that they need. Lauren Morrissey and Christina Frasik, co-founders of the Student Coalition for Reproductive Justice (SCRJ), sit down to talk with us about expanding student’s access to critical sexual and reproductive healthcare on campuses across the United States!
SCRJ is a student-led organization fighting for reproductive justice on Catholic university campuses. SCRJ is made up of five autonomous groups at universities across the U.S. that are actively providing sexual and reproductive health care to students, which is otherwise not available on campus because of their school’s Catholic identity. SCRJ has united these groups to provide a foundation for incoming students to rely on and assist them in pushing the movement forward.
Catholic universities rarely provide condoms, contraception, sex supplies like dental dams or PrEP (HIV medication regiment), emergency contraception, or referrals to community health centers or physicians that provide reproductive healthcare. In fact, Catholic universities tend to refer out to crisis pregnancy centers, which use fear and manipulation tactics to convince people to continue with their pregnancies. Catholic universities tend to limit their reproductive healthcare to free pregnancy testing and STI testing, with the caveat that the STI testing carries very high fees. Ultimately, this restricts students from seeking testing. Why are universities refusing vital reproductive healthcare to students? Health insurance mandates differ from campus to campus. While the Affordable Care Act mandates coverage of birth control through a third party, students may not have an option for insurance other than the university’s own insurance plan. This mandate is the only legal standard that universities must follow in regards to sexual and reproductive healthcare.
The Catholic church’s teachings inform what healthcare students can receive at Catholic university health centers. Health centers follow a set of directives instituted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These directives highlight heteronormativity, sex for procreation’s sake, and abstinence outside of marriage. Providers at campus health centers are hired under the requirement that they will adhere to those directives. SCRJ also exists to provide medically accurate sex education for students who have previously received sex education in Catholic high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.
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