St. Rose’s Selective Health Care

8 Nov

The View from Venus (November 8th, 2011)
Tiffany Knapp

Something many students may not be aware of is St. Rose’s policy on birth control access, namely that they don’t allow Health Services to provide or be involved in the administration of it. This is attributed, as one might expect, to the Catholic history of St. Rose. While I understand that the traditions of the College should be honored and not forgotten, I disagree with forcing particular religious values on the body of students, particularly now that St. Rose is a non-parochial institution. When being recruited to the College of Saint Rose, I asked about the Catholic traditions of the College and how they impacted the academics and student life on campus. I was told that they didn’t, because St. Rose was no longer a Catholic institution. However, the College has decided to take a “zero tolerance” stance on this issue on the basis of religion, and does not allow for our Health Services office to provide condoms or administer birth control.

This applies in particular to a type of birth control called Depo-Provera, which is a shot. I myself am on this type of birth control, and ran into a recent issue with being able to take it. Because Health Services is my only option for health care here at the College, and all this service requires is a nurse’s visit for a shot, I went to Health Services, requesting that they administer it. I was informed that they would not be able to because the College restricts the type of medical care they are allowed to give – had the shot been anything but birth control, they would have been allowed to assist me. However, because the Depo shot is used primarily as a means of birth control, the College has prohibited Health Services from administering it to students. I was directed either to Urgent Care or Planned Parenthood, both of which are a reasonable distance away from the College. Lacking a vehicle, this presented a problem.

In addition to being a general inconvenience, the assumption is that everyone who is on birth control is using it primarily as a means for birth control. There are medical conditions which are treated with it. For example, I knew a girl who was also on Depo (and was also turned away from Health Services) in order to regulate her hormones so that she would be able to have children some day. Without this regulation, she could have become barren – by being refused care by St. Rose, she may well have been risking her dreams of children some day. Severe menstrual cramps, mood swings, and even acne are treated with birth control as well.

Furthermore, the basis for this ban is a particular religion, to which not all students on this campus may subscribe. First, the College is no longer religiously affiliated. Yes, it has Catholic traditions and background, but not all traditions need to be carried into the future. In addition, a variety of religions are represented on campus, and not all of those view birth control in the same way that Catholicism does. Being raised Irish Catholic, I can say from experience that not even all Catholics agree with banning access to all types of birth control.

This narrow viewpoint does not reflect the wide range of campus values, and forces students to adopt particular values that they may not agree with – and they aren’t told this when they enroll, even if they explicitly ask if the Catholic traditions of the College are going to affect them. The College of Saint Rose has misled its prospective students into a sense of religious freedom, when in reality, Catholic values are imposed upon them.

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