Choice is a word that frequents discussions of women’s issues with great regularity and yet it is often misunderstood. Many who do not deem themselves “pro-choice” have a common misconception of those that do identify as pro-choice – that they assume pro-choice is equitable to pro-abortion. This misconstrued idea of what it means to advocate a woman’s choice in terms of her sexual health ignores the root of the pro-choice stance taken by countless women, and even men.

Pro-choice is about a woman’s right to elect the lifestyle decisions that are right for her, whether they include using the pill, having an abortion or not having sex at all. Pro-choice does not advocate abortion, rather it recognizes it as an option that women ought to have in determining what is best for their lifestyle and health. Pro-choice includes making the decision to be in control of one’s sexual health and electing to enjoy the sexuality we all have as human beings in whatever capacity that makes one happy.

Unbeknownst to myself and many women on campus, including a majority of those attending a recent Women’s Caucus meeting, University Health Services here on campus offers a plethora of birth control options offered at a discount from what most local pharmacies charge for full-time students.

Our university has done a commendable job providing sexual health choices for students on campus, but has failed in its ability to truly market those choices to students. One of the most surprising and pleasing options available at UHS is Plan B – a birth control option also known under the alias of emergency oral contraception, or the “morning after” pill. The option is alive and well, and readily available to students at UR.

Plan B is a valuable option for women in deciding what sexual decisions are right for them. Plan B has been at the center of much controversy in recent years, sparking debate in pharmacies, hospitals and our federal court system. Some individuals, including pharmacists and nurses, have even refused to prescribe the contraception, citing personal beliefs. It is unfortunate and condemnable that some professionals allow their personal convictions to mar their judgment and ability to perform their jobs. Plan B is a crucial birth control option that allows women an added form of protection from unplanned pregnancies.

In order to truly serve its students by enabling them with the most options from which to choose the one that fits their lifestyle, the university ought to increase their efforts to educate the student body, about the sexual health options available at their disposal.

Let’s start educating students about their sexual health choices the moment they step on UR’s campus – include information on the contraception and sexual health services available on campus in freshman and new student orientation materials. Provide inexpensive, but oh so useful, birth control such as condoms to students – a courtesy basket of such in the bathroom, anyone? If our campus mailboxes can be stuffed with countless advertisements, why can they not too be sprinkled with condoms once a month, courtesy of UHS?

The purpose of boosting the visibility of UHS and the sexual health options available to students on campus is to give students like you and me a choice. A choice to be safe. A choice to be smart. A choice to protect and enjoy ourselves – both women and men alike.

Gilligan can be reached

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