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Catholic principles limit birth control at SHU, while Congress threatens off-campus options

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="405"] Courtesy of WebMD[/caption] Seton Hall University ranked 128 out of 140 colleges listed in the 2015 Trojan Sexual Health Report Card Rankings, six spots higher on the chart than last year’s rank of 134. The Trojan Sexual Health Report Card is an annual ranking of the sexual health resources and information available to students on campuses nationwide. Services that are taken into account and reported on are STI testing, sexual assault programs, condom availability, and quality of sexual health information and resources on website. Seton Hall does not offer any form of contraceptive on campus; a student in search of condoms will not be able to purchase them from the University Bookstore. Nor is a student able to obtain a prescription for birth control pills from Health Services. Karen Van Norman, associate vice president and dean of students, stated in an email that, “We (the University) respect and adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church with regards to this matter.” Although contraceptives are not offered on campus, routine sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings are available to students at Health Services. Also, Health Services offers pamphlets on certain sexual health issues. Two pamphlets provided by the American College Health Association give students information on sexual violence and the human papillomavirus (HPV). The HPV pamphlet states that the virus is a sexually transmitted infection and that it can be prevented by practicing safe sex with the use of a condom. Other pamphlets provided by Seton Hall include information on resources for victims of sexual assault and Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on gender and maintains equal opportunity for education irrespective of gender by prohibiting discrimination. Emily Peterson, sophomore biochemistry major, believes contraceptives are important for sexual health. “Not everybody wants a child at this point in their life.” Peterson said. “I definitely think that someone who is sexually active or is thinking about being sexually active in the future should think about birth control.” Contraceptives not only lessen the chance of pregnancy, but methods like using condoms also prevent the possibility of getting an STI. Locations near campus where students can get birth control prescriptions refilled and purchase other forms of birth control are Rite Aid Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Target. Another sexual health option that Seton Hall students have is Planned Parenthood. Three Planned Parenthood facilities are located within seven miles of Seton Hall. These facilities can be found at the East Orange Health Center as well as the Chubb Health Center and the Ironbound Health Center, both located in Newark. Emily Payne, sophomore nursing major, said that Planned Parenthood is an important resource for students at a university where contraceptives are not offered. Though Payne says that contraceptives are important for college students, she defended Seton Hall’s policy. “I understand why SHU doesn’t offer contraceptives in the aspect of the Catholic mission and their beliefs,” Payne said. Planned Parenthood’s mission statement, which can be found on their website, states that, “The mission of Planned Parenthood is to provide comprehensive, reproductive and complementary healthcare services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual. Also, to advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services.” STI screenings; birth control methods such as condoms, birth control pills, NuvaRings and more; the morning-after pill; and even general health care like anemia testing and diabetes screening are some of the services offered at Planned Parenthood facilities. Though Planned Parenthood services contribute to the health care of millions of people in the United States, it has recently been the focus of criticism by many politicians and has been under intense verbal and physical attack. Abortion is the main service that has garnered Planned Parenthood negative comments even though it accounts for just 3 percent of services performed, according to the Planned Parenthood 2013-14 annual report. The Colorado Springs shooting of a Planned Parenthood facility on Nov. 27 left three people dead and nine injured. The suspect in the shooting, Robert Lewis Dear, has been identified as being against abortion. Republican presidential candidates like Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, and N.J. governor Chris Christie have all spoken harshly of the Planned Parenthood facilities during recent Republican presidential debates. Statements from the candidates have ranged from Sen. Cruz calling it a “criminal enterprise”, to Sen. Rubio relating it to “dead babies.” Federal and state defunding of Planned Parenthood has been a goal of almost every Republican presidential candidate. Cecile Richards, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund President, released a statement about the possible defunding of Planned Parenthood on its website. “This legislation threatens millions of people’s access to preventive health care.” Richards said. “In their obsession with attacking women’s access to health care, extreme members of Congress would take basic health care away from people who need it most --- those who are struggling to get by, who rely on Medicaid or have no health insurance, and those who live in areas with few medical options. These laws hurt people.” Ashley Turner can be reached at


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