Neither condoms nor birth control pills were handed out, but Students For Choice and Planned Parenthood discussed the complexities of emergency contraception at the Michigan League yesterday night.
“The aim of this talk is to educate women about emergency contraception by addressing common misunderstandings about its use,” said Clair Morrissey, an LSA sophomore and Students For Choice executive board member.
Speaker Rhonda Bantsimba-Williams, a health educator from Planned Parenthood, drew distinctions between abortion pills and morning after pills – the common name for emergency contraception.
Calling the morning after pill “one of medicine’s best-kept secrets,” she explained that the morning after pill helps to prevent unwanted pregnancy resulting from unprotected sex or rape. The pill works by either preventing ovulation or by preventing the fertilized egg from implanting itself onto the uterus.
“The pill has to be taken within 72 hours of the incident of unprotected sex. It would not work if a woman already has an established pregnancy,” Bantsimba-Williams said.
She cautioned that morning after pills do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
“It should not be taken as a substitute for contraceptives such as condoms,” she said.
Students For Choice also urged students to push for easier availability of the morning after pill from the University Health Service by making appointments in large numbers with the UHS this Friday.
“At the moment, morning after pills can only be prescribed to a student after an appointment with a UHS clinician, and this is usually very time-consuming,” Morrissey said.
Morrissey explained that while the morning after pill is not an over-the-counter drug, the organization is urging UHS to lessen the hassle of obtaining the pill so students can have it on hand in case of an emergency.
Some students disagreed with the use of the morning after pill.
“We will not interfere with any program organized by another group, but what the morning after pill proponents are teaching is wrong,” said Andrew Shirvel, LSA senior and Students For Life president.
“Emergency contraception expels fertilized eggs from the uterus and this is clearly an act of abortion,” he added.
LSA sophomore Roz Chambers said she thought the subject of emergency contraception can be a controversial one.
“I personally disagree with the use of morning after pills because I feel that being responsible is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” Chambers said.
However, many students agreed that the morning after pill should be made more widely available.
“It is safe, it prevents women from having abortions and is especially useful in case of rape and other emergencies,” LSA sophomore Lauren Cecil said.
UHS could not be reached for comment.