The Daily Utah Chronicle - News
Issue: 04/04/03


Students Rally for Health Care
By Adam Benson

With the Park Building as a backdrop, Students for Choice Co-Director Kelli Lund told a group of about 20 rallygoers that the U's current student health insurance policy does not adequately provide for women's reproductive health care.

Currently, Student Health Services does not provide prescription contraceptives as part of student health packages, and charges women $90 for a pelvic exam while levying a $30 charge on men for the same procedure.

"We're not here to attack the administration or Student Health Services...we're here because we want to help facilitate a change for women's health care at the U," Lund said to a crowd of about 20.

Lund and Students for Choice organized a rally Wednesday afternoon in the hopes of getting administrators to change the current student health insurance policy offered by the U.

Sen. Paula Julander, D-UT, was on hand to urge rallygoers to sign petitions and fight for a change in current U student health insurance policies.

"If we want to make a statement, we need a humongous crowd...I wish all of you here brought 10 of your friends," Julander said.

She told the crowd that in five years, the percentage of women who receive contraceptive coverage has risen from 19 percent to the 90th percentile, but that there is still work that needs to be done. "We have to have bigger and smarter campaigns if we're going to win...We must do this on an intellectual basis," she said.

Katie Morgan, a U professor in the College of Nursing, told the crowd that pelvic exams are vital not only for women, but men.

According to Morgan, males between the ages of 18 and 35 are at the highest risk of contracting testicular cancer, and that early signs can be detected through monthly pelvic exams. "Testicular cancer is not an old man's disease. It's important that you all get tested and are aware of the risks," Morgan said.

Lund said the goal of Wednesday's rally was to even the playing field for female students and to make people aware of the caveats in the U's current student health insurance policy.

"Reproductive health care is basic health care...We feel that Student Health Services has a responsibility to provide the best health care for its students," she said.

Lund also proposed several suggestions that would enable U administrators to alter the current policy. Among those suggestions was the allocation of a new student fee to provide reproductive health services to students or the use of current student fees to reduce the cost of pelvic exams through the U.

Rallygoer Jono Penn said he agreed with the rally's objectives, but that providing contraceptive coverage may not be in the U's best interests.

"I agree with the idea that women are completely and utterly discriminated against in regards to the health care they receive, but I'm a little up in the air about how I feel as far as providing contraceptives through the U," he said.

abenson@chronicle.utah.edu