Morning after pill access in jeopardy

Some of my fellow students may have seen this tidbit on the news, but for the majority of my peers, I am noticing that an important decision is going mostly overlooked.

I am writing in response to the decision of the Wisconsin Assembly on Friday, June 17, 2005 to approve the bill that would place a ban on the “morning-after” pill, also known as emergency contraception, on state college campuses.

Daniel R. LeMahieu is the representative who presented this bill to the lower chamber in Wisconsin. I would like to voice some concerns I have since this bill has been passed and sent to the state Senate.

As a student at the University, I have the opportunity to use a health facility supported by Ohio’s government. I enjoy the ability to take control of my own personal health.

Personal health includes not only the education and availability of basic health care, but also the education and availability of sexual health care. Groups on campus take the required steps to educate the students about contraception and emergency measures.

For example, our peer education program associated with the Wellness Connection is an excellent resource for such matters. Our campus is supported by the state government to ensure the emotional and physical safety of the student population.

I feel that this decision to ban emergency contraception is incorrect, considering the tremendous benefit emergency contraception provides to the community at large. The major consideration regarding this pill is its use by responsible adults, such as victims of rape or women who were using proper contraception that failed.

If a woman does treat this pill as last resort birth control, the nurse providing the prescription should educate the women on more reliable sources of birth control. When a woman decides to ignore this education, it is her own decision to be irresponsible .

Although emergency contraception is an essential component of the rape kits at the University, I do not know if this is standardized in Ohio or in other states.

The morning-after pill is essentially the same composition as regular birth control pills taken continuously for three weeks, and that the difference between the two forms of birth control are in the concentration of hormones and the time frame in which the pills are to be taken.

In this regard, it is clear that to allow continuous birth control pills to be distributed, but then to ban the distribution of emergency contraception turns is illogical. Also, this bill is worded in such a way that it can be interpreted as to ban all forms of hormonal pill birth control, including the monthly pill.

I understand that this bill was drafted after a health clinic published an ad urging students to receive a prescription for Plan B prior to spring break. This ad was in poor taste. I feel that the ad should have instead notified students of the other forms of birth control and mentioned that a prescription for Plan B was available.

However, banning the availability hurts the majority of the responsible population. Basing this ban on the minority of users who abuse the pill, or the advertisements which suggest that emergency contraception is a safe alternative, is unfair.

Most women use multiple forms of contraception and do not exclusively use emergency contraception. One can imagine that the percentage of students who use emergency contraception exclusively are either uneducated or have chosen to put themselves at a higher risk.

Of the 161,000 students the bill will deny emergency contraception to on 26 campuses, I doubt that all of the students who chose to use the morning-after pill do so for irresponsible reasons.

I hope my peers will not support this bill. Allowing this ban will only damage the benefits it provides to responsible adults, who understand the risks.

I understand that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle does not support this bill and will attempt to veto it if it lands on his desk.

I urge you all to become vocal about this issue. If the bill becomes law, the first of its type in the nation, Ohio could be next.

You can write to Dan LeMahieu to voice your own opinions at:

Madison Office

Room 17 North

State Capitol

P.O. Box 8952

Madison, WI 53708