In the face of national budget cuts and laws redefining and restricting reproductive services, the College of William and Mary chapter of Voices for Planned Parenthood, or VOX, conducted an emergency contraception sale in the Sadler Center Friday.
At the sale, students were able to receive sexual or reproductive service information, ask a Planned Parenthood representative questions, get free condoms, or sign up to obtain the emergency contraception known as Plan B.
“Because of our relationship with Planned Parenthood, we were able to sell emergency contraception at a discounted rate of $15,” VOX President Michelle Munyikwa ’11 said. “If budget cuts to Planned Parenthood continue, they will not be able to provide services at these discounted rates.”
Last Tuesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) issued an amendment to Del. Terry Kilgore’s (R-1) HB 2434 Bill that would establish a health insurance exchange restricting abortion services in all cases except those involving rape, incest and those in which the life of the mother is threatened. Additionally, the governor added an amendment that would restore funding for abstinence-only education in Virginia.
“The legislation passed in the senate will likely have consequences for access to first trimester abortions for women in our state,” President and CEO of Virginia League for Planned Parenthood Paulette McElwain said in a press release. “This attack on reproductive health care could close nearly all of the 21 physicians’ offices that provide first trimester abortions in Virginia, particularly affecting low-income and rural women.”
Students for Life, the College pro-life advocacy group, generally agreed with the governor’s amendment, but was not wholly supportive of the amendment’s conditions.
“Students for Life does support the budget cuts to these programs that promote abortion,” President of Students for Life Sarah Cameron ’11 said. “Students for Life does not support abortion in any case, rape or otherwise. We do care about the women who have gone through these horrible experiences, but abortion is not equal in its treatment of the women and child. Abortion puts the woman above the child.”
Munyikwa reiterated VOX’s opinion that every woman and her partner have the right to make the choices that are best for them. VOX has described the national budget cuts to Planned Parenthood as a crisis.
“Planned Parenthood provides all types of reproductive health care, not just abortions,” Munyikwa said. “Lower income males and females will be affected the most.”
According to the Planned Parenthood, 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood are related to abortion. Other services include pre natal programs and parental training programs.
“Because Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, we do not support the organization at all,” Cameron said. “We do not feel that the good services that Planned Parenthood offers justifies our support for their programs at all. If they ever decided to not have abortion services, we may re-evaluate our stance.”
Students for Life and VOX were also divided in their support of the sale of contraception.
“We do not support the sale of contraception at any time because it prevents the implantation of the egg … It is basically the same as abortion,” Cameron said. “We don’t see abortion as a health issue, but a social justice issue. We see abortion as murder of an innocent life.”
In Williamsburg’s CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, the price of Plan B ranges from $30 to $50. The less expensive Plan B sold at VOX’s event can last for up to two years.
“It [the two year life span of Plan B] will be good for students who may need emergency contraception in the future, like if a condom breaks, and even if a friend needs it, and they don’t happen to have $50 on them at the time,” Munyikwa said.
While the majority of the students who came up to VOX’s table asked for information or picked up free condoms, Munyikwa said they sold a considerable amount of Plan B during the four-hour sale.
Munyikwa noted this was typical of the emergency contraceptive sale VOX has every spring and is also typical for Planned Parenthood in general.
Because VOX is not legally allowed to sell Plan B over the counter, students were asked to provide verification of their age and their mailing address in order to receive the emergency contraception later in their mailboxes.