Cardinal View: Women's health programs at UW are a step in the right direction

As of October, boxes of affordable emergency contraceptives sit behind the counters at the student unions. There is no denying that these new additions to Badger Market break down barriers, allowing women at UW-Madison to take more control of their reproductive health. The decision to provide accessible and affordable emergency contraception on campus is the latest addition in a push to make women’s health services more accessible to students.

University Health Services offers women’s health services,including gynecological exams, STI screenings and contraception. In addition to the UHS Women’s Health department, on-campus groups such as Sex Out Loud strive to educate fellow students about reproductive health and provide information about services available to students. The Associated Students of Madison and Facilities Planning and Management also launched a program last year that provides free menstrual products in campus bathrooms. It is important for colleges to provide access to reproductive health services for women as sex education and services available to women vary across the country as well as internationally.

According to the Guttmacher Institute in Wisconsin, the only mandated aspect of sex education is HIV education. Also, if Wisconsin schools provide a more holistic curriculum including information about contraception among other women’s health issues, information given to students is not required to be medically accurate or culturally unbiased. However, Wisconsin is not alone in having loose parameters for its curriculum, as only half of the country requires sex education at all. 

College provides an opportunity for women to gain more access to information regarding their health and to take control of their reproductive health. There is still more work to be done, but UW-Madison’s programs dedicated to women’s health are a step in the right direction, allowing its students from around the country and around the world to take control of their own health and reproductive rights.

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