Expanding student access to birth control

Kate Springer

Women’s reproductive health is underrepresented in mainstream health care, forcing women to do more research, spend more money and face more difficulty in accessing birth control than they would in other health care endeavors.

Women’s birth control needs are often not fully addressed, marginalizing women’s health and reproductive rights.

Senior Teremy Garen is president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, an organization working toward its goal of changing Student Health Services’ practices to include intrauterine device insertions in their services provided.

The inspiration for these efforts is unfortunate: Garen noted that a woman who is assaulted may find her only solace is knowing that she has appropriate access to birth control.

Many of our students have taken a clear stance against our current political climate regarding reproductive rights; the Oct. 4 walk-out clearly outlined the crowd’s expectations: a campus climate that supports women’s reproductive rights and reasonable access to this care.

In light of these conversations, it becomes more pressing that UVM makes structural efforts to support a woman’s right to choose what is best for her body. A great place to start would be to ensure that individual women on campus have their choice of  which form of birth control is best for them.

Garen is highly educated on this topic, due to both her own research as well as her affiliations with Planned Parenthood. She outlined that Student Health Services can prescribe birth control pills, but is unable to provide IUDs because our medical center is not a preferred provider of a majority of insurance companies. They can only refer students seeking IUDs.

She shared that taking the pill may not be ideal or healthy for all women.  For many users, the pill influences hormones that can amplify period symptoms such as weight gain, acne and many other uncomfortable side effects. It can also impede on other hormone-influencing medications such as antidepressants.

IUDs have forms that do not affect hormones, reducing the discomfort and other concerns that often accompany periods.

There are valid, systemic reasons why IUDs are not currently offered at UVM. That being said, it’s about time women’s health is taken seriously and that our discomfort is viewed and handled as a legitimate health issue.

We have been forced to compromise for too long, and UVM’s acknowledgement of this would show that, as an institution, they take women’s rights and health seriously.