Loyola’s Wellness Center fails to provide students with proper reproductive health services. Due to the university’s adherence to Jesuit Catholic teachings, the Wellness Center falls short in offering students services they’re entitled to receive.
Just because someone goes to a religious university doesn’t mean they should have to give up having access to adequate healthcare.
The Wellness Center is a medical clinic through the university that offers Loyola students a variety of services and resources pertaining to physical and mental health-related issues. However, they fail to provide adequate reproductive care to their students, specifically in regards to contraceptives and abortion options. These components are all things that should be included with the provided healthcare.
Despite 66 percent of college students claiming they’re sexually active in a report by the National College Health Assessment in 2018, students can’t acquire condoms, birth control pills and other forms of contraception through the Wellness Center. Its website states it doesn’t give out oral contraceptives or anything that would prevent a pregnancy from happening — a result of Roman Catholic beliefs on family planning, according to their FAQs section.
“In keeping with the Catholic beliefs about family planning that are espoused by Loyola University Chicago, the Wellness Center does not provide oral contraceptives or other devices for the purpose of preventing pregnancy,” the website reads.
The Wellness Center will only prescribe birth control for medical issues that deviate from contraceptive purposes. This can be dangerous because a student might feel the need to lie about their medical history or current situation to get birth control for contraceptive purposes and end up with a misdiagnosis.
Students should be able to easily access birth control — their reason for needing it shouldn’t matter.
It’s a failure on the part of the university for not providing students with these protective measures. Intrauterine devices (IUD) and oral contraceptives both decrease the possibility of unwanted pregnancy. Similarly, items such as condoms and dental dams prevent the spread of STIs. As a medical center, Loyola’s Wellness Center needs to prove its commitment to providing healthcare — including reproductive health resources.
If someone does happen to become pregnant and they turn to the Wellness Center for a referral, then they might be sent to one of three places: Holt-Sunny Ridge, Catholic Charities and Aid for Women. These three places are all listed as community resources for pregnant individuals on the Wellness Center’s website.
The Wellness Center shouldn’t be referring women to Aid for Women. Despite the organization claiming a woman has options, it can be perceived that Aid for Women has a bias against abortion. This is evident from the way it talks about the abortion process as opposed to adoption and other options.
On its website, Aid for Women describes abortion in the following manner: “Many women who have had past abortions will continue to struggle their entire lives with their abortion decision and wish they had been better informed about abortion procedures and the many risks and side effects.” It also adds a statement saying: “In the early weeks of pregnancy, the fetus pain sensory receptors are quickly developing, and the baby’s capability of experiencing pain increases as the pregnancy progresses.”
When talking about adoption, it discusses it with this wording: “Adoption is a way to give your child a future. Adoption can provide both a loving and life-giving choice for the mom, baby and adoptive family.” It then goes on to list the benefits of adoption — such as continuing with an education and a career.
Reproductive organs are a part of a person’s body and should be cared for just as much as any other organ, which adheres to one of Loyola’s mission goals: cura personalis, or caring for the whole person.
“One can’t care for the whole person if the care stops at reproduction,” said Lauren Morrissey, a Loyola student advocate for reproductive health.
It’s important for students to be able to use the Wellness Center as a resource for their health. While the Wellness Center has made changes — such as partnering with ProtoCall to improve mental health services they provide to students — they still have a long way to go in terms of reproductive care.
It’s time to start caring about the entire person and not stop at their reproductive organs.