JMU Students Fight for Access to Emergency Contraception
Nearly 3,000 students demanded that James Madison University's Board of Visitors reverse their decision to stop the student health center from dispensing emergency contraception. Upon hearing of the decision, sophomore Krissy Schnebel collected 2,700 student signatures and used them to draft a Student Government Association (SGA) Bill of Opinion asking the Board to reverse its decision, according to the Washington Post.
The Board of Visitors voted 8-6 on April 18 to force the health center to stop offering emergency contraception, which can prevent pregnancy for 72 hours after unprotected sex, failed contraception, or rape. The decision was prompted by a letter from Delegate Robert Marshall (R-Manassas), according to the Associated Press. The Board could reverse its decision and reinstate emergency contraception at the health center if a board member makes a motion to do so, according to the Lynchburg News and Advance.
The SGA will present the Bill of Opinion to the Board of Visitors at their June meeting. SGA president Levar Stoney said if the Board did not allow the health center to dispense emergency contraception, the SGA would present the Bill of Opinion again during October after new appointments are made to the Board, according to the JMU Breeze.
Students at JMU expressed outrage over the decision. "To me, a bunch of old white men sitting around a table shouldn't be able to decide what the health center can do," said JMU student Travis White, according to the Post. "Or what women can do." A rally took place at JMU on Monday, according to the Breeze. Thirteen other Virginia schools, including Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, and George Mason University, offer emergency contraception at their campus health centers.
In related news, the Hawaii legislature voted to require hospitals to inform survivors of sexual assault about emergency contraception. Hospitals would face a $5000 fine if they did not provide survivors with the information. In addition, the legislature voted to make emergency contraception available behind the counter. The two bills will now go to the governor, Linda Lingle (R), according to the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.
Media Resources: ichmond Times-Dispatch 4/23/03; Associated Press 4/19/03; Washington Post 4/24/03; Lynchburg News and Advance 4/27/03; JMU Breeze 4/28/03; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 4/29/03