Women's healthcare and their ability to not only chose what is best for their body but even have the ability to access the necessary medical care has been a debate in the recent political climate. This discussion has been brought about by America's rediscovery of Religion within its leadership. While we are becoming again "one nation under God" we are also becoming one nation with limited options.
I had always separated myself from the healthcare crisis that women are facing because I had always had the luxury of private insurance, parents willing to let me make my own decisions, and doctors that aided me on finding out what worked best for my body. However, moving away from home I have realized that not everyone is as fortunate and that it can be easy to be put in a situation where the necessary healthcare isn't readily available.
Like most college students, I frequent the on-campus health center whether it's for a cold, a flu shot, or even my monthly dose of birth control. I never figured that attending college on a Christian campus would impact the ways I could take care of myself and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The healthcare provided to me in the recent months has been tinged with a judgmental overtone of religious superiority. Growing up Catholic, my childhood was about as religious as it got but being exposed to belittling ideas behind how a woman should take care of her body was a new realm that frankly made me uncomfortable.
1. “Why are you taking birth control, it’s not only for contraceptive use right?”
Walking into the health center for my first round of birth control this year, I was faced with this question. Although it is perfectly normal for a healthcare provider to ask why a patient may be considering birth control, it is not normal to imply that using birth control only as a contraceptive is wrong. Although I do use birth control to manage chronic ovarian cysts in addition to using it as a contraceptive, women across campus should not feel bad for utilizing the pregnancy prevention aspects of birth control. This judgment can often sway a woman from protecting herself during sex for the fear of going against her faith, as many providers in the on-campus health center imply
2. “Have you ever considered abstinence as a form of birth control?"
When my close friend attempted to begin a birth control regiment this year, she was asked this. As a college health care center it is their job to equip students with the best forms of protection for practicing safe sex as it inevitably will occur and promoting abstinence above all else only encourages ignorance. When abstinence is taught as the only method of pregnancy prevention, it ironically leads to more pregnancy and even sexually transmitted diseases as young college students are not aware on how to practice safe sex nor do they feel comfortable enough to ask how to go about it.
3. "Are you sure this isn’t just an STD?”
Recently, I went into the health center after experiencing the symptoms of a kidney infection; painful urination and lower back pain. Before even asking if I was sexually active, the health care provider questioned if I was just dealing with something along the lines of gonorrhea or chlamydia. I am not sure if this was based upon the way I was dressed or my gender but I was alarmed that without asking preliminary questions they would just assume I was sick due to an STD. After running a test and discovering that it was a kidney infection, they reinforced that "when" I do contract an STD I should come in right away.
It is discouraging as a young woman on a Christian campus that I am not able to obtain the same medical care with the same discretion and sensitivity that someone on a non-religious campus or of a different gender could get. Teaching abstinence and shaming safe sex will only create a culture of oblivion. Additionally, intentional slut-shaming on the basis of a patient's health concerns is yet again unprofessional and discourages students from coming in for medical care. Christian Campuses should not implement their religious beliefs when dealing with a student's health as for many, on-campus health centers are their only option for medical care and each student is entitled to the same level of care regardless of their religious beliefs, sexual practices, or gender.