Opinion: In a post-Roe landscape, ASU needs to make resources more accessible

In a post-Roe landscape, access to reproductive health care options and resources on campus are more critical than ever. ASU needs to better advertise its existing reproductive health care resources, in addition to making them more accessible to students across its campuses.

After the overturning of Roe v. Wade left abortion regulation to the states, the previously uncertain abortion landscape in Arizona shifted to the extreme. On Sept. 23, a Pima County judge lifted the injunction on a law that bans abortions after 15 weeks in all cases except when “it is necessary to save (the mother’s) life,” with no exceptions for rape or incest.

For now, enforcement of the ruling is on hold after it was blocked by a three-judge panel in the Arizona Court of Appeals. This allows Planned Parenthood to resume providing abortion procedures until the courts reach a final decision.

READ MORE: This is what we know about where abortion rights currently stand in Arizona

This limbo leaves Arizona residents confused and nervous for the future. In this uncertain climate, ASU should be doing its best to provide students comfort and security through increasing student access to sexual health services.

Access to physical resources is limited to certain campuses, which could be in part due to misconceptions surrounding students’ sexual activity.

Melanie Buathier, education coordinator of Devils in the Bedroom and a junior studying forensic science and biology, said these misconceptions could affect the supply of contraceptives and sex education resources across ASU campuses.

“In Tempe, there’s this idea that Tempe students are all sexually active,” Buathier said. “It could be detrimental to students on other campuses because all the resources are concentrated in the Tempe campus, so the other campuses are neglected.”

Buathier said if the University “thinks that Tempe is the most sexually active campus, then (they) don’t really need to worry about the other campuses.”

According to Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, existing resources aren’t sufficient to adequately protect students from dangerous situations like sexual violence.

According to feedback SDASA collected, 90% of ASU students think ASU’s Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention program is ineffective, which is ASU’s biggest resource related to reproductive justice issues. With such a large amount of students not having faith in the program’s effectiveness, ASU should provide and promote confidential resources and actively seek to improve them rather than standing by.

When The State Press reached out to ASU Health Services, a spokesperson provided a comprehensive list of sexual health and reproductive health care resources online. The problem, then, is ASU’s insufficient advertising.

“People don’t know it exists,” Buathier said.

SDASA confirmed this sentiment for resources relating to sexual violence in an email to The State Press. According to its statement, rather than advertising confidential victim advocates as a first point of contact for sexual and relationship violence victims, ASU directs students to Student Advocacy and Assistance as a first point of contact, which may trigger an unwanted University investigation and potentially expose the student to retaliation.

“If a student tells Student Advocacy & Assistance they need help accessing contraception or abortion resources because they were sexually assaulted by another student, Student Advocacy & Assistance staff are required to report the student’s disclosure to investigative offices that may initiate an investigation even if the student doesn’t want an investigation to happen,” SDASA wrote.

This major oversight prevents students from receiving important reproductive care, and prevents victims of sexual violence from receiving the support they need. ASU needs to prioritize both aggressively advertising and recalibrating the available resources in order for students to properly utilize them.

ASU needs to stand by its charter, which outlines the University’s “fundamental responsibility” for “the overall health of the communities it serves.”

With Arizona’s political climate undermining the right to reproductive healthcare, ASU needs to demonstrate it firmly stands by its students, the people that make ASU’s thriving community and reputation possible, and that it will do everything in its power to support victims of sexual violence. Advertising reproductive health services and making reproductive resources more effective is the first step.

Edited by Sadie Buggle, Piper Hansen and Grace Copperthite.

Reach the columnist at mosmonbe@asu.edu.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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