In an email sent today, Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke (3L) and Georgetown Law Student’s for Reproductive Justice (GLSRJ) delivered a jointly-signed letter asking that the University provide for comprehensive contraceptive coverage in the student health plan for 2012. As of this writing, over 780 Law Center students have co-signed the letter—comprising a significant percentage of the student body.
The letter was delivered, via Fluke’s email, to the Offices of University President Dr. John DeGioia, Law Center Dean William Treanor, Associate Vice President for Student Health Dr. James Welsh, and Law Center Dean of Students Mitchell Bailin.
(Continue reading for the full text of the letter.)
Under a recently finalized Department of Health and Human Services regulation, student health plan’s must provide women’s preventive services, including all FDA-approved forms of contraception, at no cost by August 2012. Religiously affiliated institutions like Georgetown, however, may exercise an option to delay implementation for a full year, until August 2013. The letter urges that Georgetown forgo this option.
In her email accompanying the letter, Fluke questioned whether the University could qualify for the optional extension because “Georgetown already provides subsidized comprehensive contraception coverage to its faculty and staff.” Faculty and staff, whose healthcare is subsidized by the University, are offered coverage for contraception. The student health plan, in contrast, does not offer such coverage and is unsubsidized.
This discrepancy, which was not generally known to students until this academic year, was questioned in a February resolution of the Student Bar Association (SBA). In it, the SBA asked the University “to publicly clarify by both “faith and reason” the inconsistency and apparent discrimination in [the] institutional stances towards faculty and students.” Though nearly two months have passed, the University has made no public response.
Attempting to exercise the one year delay option, argues the letter, “would only delay inevitable coverage and increase health risks to the student body for another year.” The letter also chafes at the apparent paternalism in the University’s position, asking that law students be treated “as autonomous adults” capable of their own moral choices.
Full text of the letter: