Across the United States, 86.3% of all colleges and universities provide latex condoms to their students, according to a 2014 study done by ResearchGate. However, Loyola is part of the 13.7% of colleges and universities that don’t supply their students with contraceptives.
“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 Wellness Center website reads. “Oral contraceptives are prescribed only for medical reasons other than birth control.”
When used correctly, birth control methods such as condoms and oral contraceptive pills serve as a significantly effective barrier to avoiding unplanned pregnancies. Condoms typically have a failure rate of only 13% and oral contraceptives such as birth control pills typically have a failure rate of only 7%, according to the Center for Disease Control.
In 2018, The National College Health Assessment found that 66% of students had sex in the past 12 months compared to 72% in 2000, according to the Johns Hopkins Newsletter.
While Loyola refuses to provide their students with the necessary resources for safe sex, the responsibility is left up to individuals and organizations like Students for Reproductive Justice, a group unrecognized by Loyola administration, to give students access to such resources. The group stands on the public sidewalk parallel to North Sheridan Road handing out condoms on “Free Condom Friday” nearly every week, The Phoenix previously reported.
For those driving by the intersection, it may be a mildly uncomfortable but humorous event to witness. For students, it can mean something much deeper — a means of reproductive health resources the university doesn’t otherwise provide.
In addition to pregnancy prevention, condoms serve as a form of protection from diseases spread through sex. One in two people will contract a sexually transmitted infection by the age of 25, according to research done at the University of Iowa.
Despite Loyola’s Wellness Center offering confidential testing for diseases spread through sex, they are not offering the resources that would allow students to take extra steps in protecting themselves from STDs.
As a university that follows Catholic teachings, its opposition to contraception may not come as a surprise to many, and therefore can be consistently swept under the rug as a part of its culture and values. However, it’s necessary for universities like Loyola to reconsider providing students with free access to birth control methods.