College News

Student finance committee representatives push for emergency oral contraceptives instead of IUD provision

SSFC members voted to create a reproductive health care subcommittee Monday night.

Image By: Brandon Moe and Brandon Moe

Instead of offering copper IUDs to sexual assault survivors, Reps. Sophia Alzaidi and Jordan Madden introduced a proposal Monday that looks to provide oral emergency contraception so more students would have access.

UHS’s $4,000 line item, part of their annual budget they presented to the student finance committee, currently is used as emergency contraception only for victims of sexual violence. However, an IUD costs $800 and is fully covered by UHS. With that math, Madden pointed out that this comes out to only five students.

However, the proposal — which looks to eliminate the copper IUD and replace it with oral contraceptives — will reach more students, Madden said. In order to make the contraceptives more accessible, Alzaidi and Madden are looking to have UHS provide them at a highly subsidized cost or for free.

According to the proposal, roughly 80-200 students could get access to emergency contraceptives if they were bought at a wholesale rate of $20-$50 per unit and students were able to get them for free. 100-800 students on campus could have access under a subsidized rate of $5-$10 per unit sold.

“It’s [the proposal] responsibly distributing student fees to benefit the larger population of the student body with the lowest cost to the administration,” Alzaidi said. “A plan that fiscally prioritizes oral emergency contraceptives would benefit a higher proportion of students than the current plan.”

The representatives also cited a 2012 study on clinicians taking part in a California State family planning program. 85 percent of them didn’t recommend the IUD for emergency contraception for the following reasons:

  1. High cost of insertion and removal
  2. The possibility for a victim to have to make multiple visits for insertion which they found to be “unnecessary and burdensome”

However, Madden did point out some of the issues with providing oral contraceptives. They include:

  1. Federal Drug Administration policy requires people under age 17 to have a prescription to buy emergency oral contraceptives
  2. UHS isn’t open for 24 hour periods seven days a week

Though mostly supportive of the proposal, the body pointed out that IUD’s are the most effective form of birth control as they are still effective five to seven days after unprotected sex, whereas oral contraception, such as Plan B, must be taken within 72 hours for the greatest effectiveness.

Representatives also toyed with the idea of providing both forms of contraception, as well as whether to restrict the proposal to just sexual assault victims.

“It would be able to be utilized by a lot more people on campus than just the ones that are kind of segregated off,” Madden said. “I do like the idea of having it be offered for free for survivors as opposed to a subsidized cost for the general population, but I also see that being potentially difficult to actually implement on an intake level for these specific issues.”

This proposal comes after Madden exchanged emails with UHS Director of Administrative Services Arnold Jennerman about possibly providing Plan B in vending machines at UW-Madison earlier in the semester.

However, university spokesperson Meredith McGlone told The Daily Cardinal that there isn’t available data that shows a student demand for oral contraceptives.

In the end, the committee decided they needed more time to figure out the final wording for UHS’s recommendation.

“I think it’s a great start, but I do think it’s [only] a start,” Rules Committee Chair Dylan Resch said. “It’s important to have the full committee discussion and I think it’s gone really well so far, but I think it takes more than 12 minutes to develop those for the final languages.”

SSFC postponed the recommendation and vote on UHS’s budget and will take both items up again on Monday, Feb. 19.

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