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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Anniversary Highlights Importance of Women’s Rights

September was an anniversary month for Massachusetts’s women. September 15th marked three years since Massachusetts introduced legislation that expanded access to emergency contraception, also known as Plan B. Plan B introduces a higher dose of hormones to the body than what is found in the birth control pill, that when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex can reduce the chance of pregnancy by almost ninety percent.

The law, enacted in 2005, required hospitals and clinics to make Plan B contraception available to rape victims as well as allowing pharmacists to dispense the medication without a prescription; however, pharmacists must first go through training and work with a physician. By requiring hospitals to provide this medication to rape victims, perhaps more rape victims will feel more comfortable coming forward and getting the medical attention that is often needed.

On our own campus, Plan B is offered through Student Health Services on the second floor of the Quinn Building. While some students (maybe parents more so) might find this offer unsettling due to religious beliefs or other personal reasons, I think this means of access is vital to any college campus. The U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice reports that on a campus of 10,000 women there could be at least 350 rapes a year, at the current rate of victimization. A single rape or attempted rape is enough justification for Plan B to be offered in any Health Services department, to say nothing of one with higher numbers of incidences. Student Health Services could be increasing the number of students treated by providing access to this medication, since they are meeting students where they are. Sheer proximity to appropriate aftercare could improve the health of not only rape victims, but the whole campus.

While the law mentioned previously is geared toward victims of sexual assault, accidents happen and other forms of birth control (condoms, diaphragms, etc.) can have technical difficulties. It is important that women feel comfortable coming forward and asking for Plan B. This new legislation serves as one more step for women’s sexuality to become less taboo and a more openly discussed issue of public health. The more women speak up about their own health issues, the more women’s health will become a forefront in the political domain. As it stands now, abortion is the forerunner of women’s health issues addressed by politicians, but there is so much more that should be included, such as access to cardiac disease diagnosis and treatment.

Although my feministic ways champion topics such as Plan B and abortion, I feel that by focusing on women’s health through reproductive rights only, women’s health policy remains sexualized. The discussion on such policy quickly turns into a debate over women as virgins or women as sluts. For example, one discussion point could say that Plan B would not need to be provided if women weren’t engaging in “risky” pre-marital sex or “attracting the wrong attention” in the case of rape (blaming the victim, as is often the case), demonizing females who don’t adhere to the virginal archetype to which women are still held. Women’s health is still an area in which steps need to be taken to desexualize women and make their rights about women as humans who happen to have sex rather than rights about sexual objects who happen to be women.