Birth control advocates rally on campus

Student activists gathered in Kogan Plaza Monday afternoon to call for easier access to emergency contraception at colleges nationwide

The event recognized Back Up Your Birth Control Day, a national effort to make emergency contraception pills more accessible. The pills may reduce the risk of pregnancy if taken up to 120 hours after sexual intercourse, according to Planned Parenthood.

The GW delegation of March for Women’s Lives, a coalition of pro-choice student organizations, sponsored the rally. The event featured three student speakers from the delegation, and was a preview to the March for Women’s Lives on April 25.

CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington, Jatrice Martel Gaiter, was scheduled to be the featured speaker at the rally, but was unable to attend because she was sick.

Junior Emily Goodstein, adviser of the Voices for Choices student group and board member for the delegation, commended GW’s Student Health Services for providing students with access to emergency contraception prescriptions. She said the Federal Drug Administration should approve over-the-counter access.

“By ignoring the overwhelming recommendation of its own expert committees, the FDA is obstructing men and women’s access to this important contraceptive option and is choosing politics over scientific facts,” Goodstein told about 20 attendees.

In December, an FDA advisory committee endorsed an emergency contraception brand called Plan B for over-the-counter sale. The FDA delayed its decision to allow sale of the drug without a prescription until May to gather more information about emergency contraception.

Goodstein also told students that emergency contraception has the potential to prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions each year.

Megan Tackney, treasurer of the Student Global AIDS Campaign, told students to demand over-the-counter access of emergency contraception.

“Enough is enough. Not in our generation will these rights be taken away,” Tackney said.

Ari Mittleman, Voices for Choices member, spoke about the significance of emergency contraception for men.

“This is an issue for guys and girls – we’re all American,” Mittleman said.

A thank you note to the GW health center and a petition to the Federal Drug Administration were available during the event for students to sign. Volunteers also gave out information about the March for Women’s Lives, Planned Parenthood and emergency contraception.

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