Planned Parenthood Advocates of Mizzou push for more comprehensive reproductive healthcare

After MSA passed a resolution expressing support for PPAM’s free Plan B initiative, the group continues to strategize new ways to generate more traction on campus.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Mizzou furthers their efforts in providing equal access to reproductive healthcare and family planning by petitioning for MU to provide free emergency contraceptives at a rate of two pills per semester per student, regardless of gender identity.

“We wanted to include all genders in this because students should share culpability for pregnancy,” PPAM Vice President Kara Cheslock said. “And we want to be inclusive for trans[gender] and non-binary people.”

Due to the group’s belief that unplanned pregnancy often derails education and results in increased college dropouts, PPAM is hoping the university will prioritize education by providing free emergency contraceptives. PPAM trusts that if MU truly values education, they will support and adopt their free emergency contraceptives initiative.

PPAM President Colleen Lee had many points of emphasis throughout the meeting but stressed that emergency contraceptives are not equivalent to the abortion pill.

“Emergency contraceptives are pills with an increased level of hormones that prevent fertilization,” Lee said. “In fact, you can take Plan B while pregnant without harming the pregnancy.”

One of the primary caveats of emergency contraceptives is that they lose effectiveness as time passes. They can only be taken after five days of unprotected sex, so they must be taken as soon as possible for successful results.

“Some barriers to emergency contraceptives are stigma, financial, transportation, privacy and sexual assault,” Cheslock said.

By having free emergency contraceptives on campus, the group hopes that some of these barriers would be eliminated. Then, individuals would have access to emergency contraceptives within the five-day window which could, in turn, reduce the number of abortions.

PPAM hosted a Plan B Power Hour in the Women’s Center Tuesday, Oct. 1 to encourage MU to adopt free access to emergency contraceptives.

After discussing their motivations behind the free emergency contraceptive petition, Lee reported that an MSA resolution was passed in support of their initiative. MSA’s support furthers the pressure on the university to adopt PPAM’s initiative.

Although PPAM views MSA’s support as a step in the right direction, they are still seeking support from more organizations and students until emergency contraceptives are offered to students at no cost. To generate this support, PPAM allotted most of the meeting to writing testimonials, locating more potential co-sponsors of the initiative and researching other universities who currently offer students free emergency contraceptives.

As of now, PPAM has only found six private universities that provide free emergency contraceptives. Yale University, Brandeis University, Columbia University, Albion College, Barnard College and Washington University in St. Louis offer free contraceptives and Naropa University provides emergency contraceptives to sexual assault victims. PPAM is striving to make MU the first public university to their knowledge to offer such accessible reproductive healthcare to its students.

Edited by Ben Scott | bscott@themaneater.com

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