Protesters marched after Roe v. Wade was overturned this past June, angry after losing the constitutional right to an abortion and other forms of reproductive healthcare. Photo courtesy of Anna Moneymaker.
ABIGAIL RUBLE | OPINION COLUMNIST | email@example.com
Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade through Dobbs v. Jackson in June and Indiana Senate Bill 1 in July, students across the country have been grappling with their new reality. On Aug. 23, Frank Ross, vice president of student affairs, sent an email to the Butler community highlighting the assistance the university provides.
The featured resources include condoms, pregnancy tests, Plan B emergency contraception and STI testing. However, these are services that Butler was already providing prior to the overturning of Roe in Indiana. Without new resources, students and faculty are stuck with no new support now that they live in a different environment since the overturning.
Abortion is a nationwide issue, and we’re only scratching the surface on what we can do for support here at Butler.
Honestly, our university isn’t doing enough.
To understand the university’s course of action, I reached out to faculty, students and Butler University Health Services to get different perspectives.
Dr. Natalie Carter, English department senior lecturer and affiliate faculty for the race, gender and sexuality studies department, feels that the email wasn’t supportive of our student body and that Health Services must do more.
“I find the language of [the email] is really insufficient,” Carter said. “It’s good that they’ve acknowledged that this is going to be an issue for everyone in this country … This is not a ‘people who can have babies’ issue. It is absolutely a human rights issue, and I think a lot more needs to be done.”
I absolutely agree with Dr. Carter’s thoughts on these issues. Butler University is lacking the allocation of additional funds to Health Services during these appalling times. Without these funds, the resources that they provide cannot possibly help support students.
An email listing services Butler already provides is basically useless. The email did have an FAQ section where they attempted to answer questions about the support that the university had. However, it just talked in circles about different insurance plans, recommending students themselves look into it.
Within the student-wide email from Ross, regarding insurance, the email wrote, “We recommend all students review their insurance plans as all plans provide different coverage, and contact your insurance provider directly with any questions.”
Putting the burden on students to navigate this complicated and unfamiliar issue with nothing but a recommendation to look at their insurance is pitiful.
In an email to the Butler Collegian, Maxie Gardner, director of Health Services, provided information on the university’s response to Indiana Senate Bill 1.
“College students fall in the age range that is most likely to face an unintended pregnancy,” Gardner wrote in that email. “It’s only natural that our students have concerns about Indiana’s new abortion law. Butler University is prepared to support those students … including spiritual support, mental health services and reproductive health services.”
Gardner’s response is very vague. Being “prepared to support” students won’t help when the resources that they have are subpar, and what they are providing is insufficient. With Roe v. Wade being overturned, we need actual action from our university. But we are instead limited by what Health Services is able to provide, and we must demand more. We need our university to provide rides to clinics and resources for students to get the medical support that they need. While “spiritual support” can be helpful for guidance as to what the person might need, there isn’t anything physical that this support can do.
Health Services isn’t the only institution on campus that provides students with reproductive health support. The Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office, SARP, provides sexual health education and mediation for Butler students.
Brynn Baker, a sophomore biochemistry major, feels that the SARP office is underutilized by the university.
“This would be a great time to give more funding to the sexual assault department on campus as well,” Baker said.
Baker brings up a great point that the SARP office is not utilized to the fullest extent of its potential. With more support from the university, SARP could be providing victims of sexual assault with trauma informed counseling and guidance on receiving a legal abortion.
Not only is getting an abortion a difficult decision for so many young people, but there is also the added issue that many students don’t have a car on campus. Trying to get to a Planned Parenthood to obtain reproductive care if the student doesn’t have a car takes pre-planning. Furthermore, with abortion becoming outlawed within Indiana, to get an abortion the person would need to cross state lines. And this still doesn’t consider the cost of the abortion itself.
I was also fascinated with the surprise expressed by Butler students who didn’t anticipate any sort of response on our campus.
“I was actually impressed at all that they even addressed it,” Baker said. “ I feel like in today’s political climate, [abortion] is something that’s obviously very heavily politicized. So, even though that bar is super low, for them to even address it … I was impressed that they said anything at all.”
The fact that we, as a student body, are impressed by our university doing the bare minimum is sad. While we are only a small university, we still have an obligation to speak out for what we believe in. That is what will enact change.
There are universities across the nation supporting students outwardly; the University of Michigan being one that has said that they have and will continue to support students’ reproductive health, specifically that their institutions will continue to provide abortions. Although abortion remains legal in Michigan, the University of Michigan’s willingness to maintain abortion care for their students is still incredibly powerful.
The country is in a divisive state with protests and rallies all throughout the country as a response to the overturning.
Carter provides the Butler community with a call to action.
“Butler students need to fight,” Carter said. “They need to fight at the academic level — like at the university level, they need to fight at the city level, they need to fight at the state level. Register to vote and actually do it. Look into the candidates you’re voting for and seek out what they are saying about abortion rights specifically. If you have somebody on the ballot who is dancing around this issue, find another candidate because you need people who are going to enter this fight and really be willing to protect your human rights and your equality and your dignity to live.”
I truly urge students to do exactly what Dr. Carter said. Scream it from the rooftops that we, the younger generation, demand change. To see change in this world we must be loud about what we want and we must vote to make those words laws. Butler is doing a lousy job supporting Health Services’s resources and the community as a whole, but we as a generation can work towards making it better by demanding the attention of organizations and the government.
You can also help others that are going through the difficulties of an unwanted pregnancy and support them however they need. Looking out for your friends and family during these difficult times and making sure that you help them find resources is something that everyone can do, even if Health Services won’t be the one doing it.
There is more that Butler could be doing to support students in this dire time. We need to be doing more. We need to speak out and take action.