Dear Mark and Wittenberg’s Senior Administrative leadership,
Today [as of publication] is the twenty-ninth day that students at Wittenberg have been without access to contraceptive health care services. While we appreciate your recent communication to the campus community, it leaves key questions unanswered:
- What is to be the location for the separate space?
- What is the name of the on-campus provider?
- What is the timeline for when on-campus contraceptive services will be restored?
Even if these questions can be answered, and assuming that at some point they will be, our community is still being asked to accept a new health care system which is fundamentally at odds with Wittenberg’s values and mission. CMHP is a Catholic institution, and as such, our Health Center is now subject to its doctrinal strictures, including:
“52. Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices, but should provide, for married couples and the medical staff who counsel them, instruction both about the Church’s teaching on responsible parenthood and in methods of natural family planning.” (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Ethical-Religious-Directives-Catholic-Health-Care-Services-fifth-edition-2009.pdf)
This contrasts sharply with the ELCA position on contraception and reproductive health, expressed here:
“Fleeting relationships misuse the gift of sexual intimacy and are much more likely to be unjust, abusive and exploitative. Although this church strongly discourages such relationships, it nevertheless insists that every sexual relationship entails responsibility. All sexually active people have the responsibility to protect their sexual partner from both emotional and physical harm, as well as to protect themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted diseases and the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy.” (http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/SexualitySS.pdf)
If a provider can’t offer an important part of a service, we shouldn’t partner with them. Birth control is an important component of health centers on college campuses in general.
- Cutting this service from the Health Center sends the message that the sexual health of our students isn’t important.
- Cutting this service from the Health Center sends the message that sex is something to be ashamed of.
- We are not providing safe and adequate health care as such for our students if we exclude reproductive health in all of its dimensions from provision at our Health Center.
- The Health Center needs to be a safe, accessible place to have open discussions about health-related decisions students might be facing.
- Counseling students to lie to their doctors in order to get birth control is profoundly unethical.
We thus call on Wittenberg’s senior leadership to immediately end this partnership with CMHP and to restore either our own Wittenberg-run Health Center, or to find an appropriate institution with which to partner.
Thank you for your prompt attention and response to these pressing concerns as we all work to ensure that the needs of our students are met in accordance with our mission and values.
Dr. Heather Wright (Political Science, Women’s Studies); Dr. Brooke Wagner (Sociology, Director of the Womyn’s Center); Dr. Cynthia Richards (English); Dr. Katharine Polak (English); Dr. Lori Askeland (English); Dr. Shelley Chan (Chinese Language and Cultural Studies); Dr. Sheryl Cunningham (Communication); Dr. Nancy McHugh (Philosophy); Suzanne Smailes (Head of Technical Services, Thomas Library); Dr. Keith Doubt (Sociology); Dr. Timothy Bennett (Languages); Dr. Timothy Wilkerson (French); Dr. Scott Rosenberg (African History); Dr. Michael Anes (Psychology); Dr. Sarah Fortner (Geology); Dr. Staci Rhine (Political Science); Dr. Rob Baker (Political Science); Dr. Ian Polak MacDonald (English); Ken Irwin (Reference Librarian, Thomas Library); Dr. Nancy Woehrle (Psychology); Dr. James Allan (Political Science); Dr. David Wishart (Economics); Dr. Ruth Hoff (Languages); Sarah Jurewicz (Head Coach, Women’s Basketball Coach); Natalie Koukis (Head Coach, Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving); Mary Beth Wendt (Assistant, HFS/Athletics Department); Dr. Terumi Imai (Japanese); Kelly Mahlum (Associate Head Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Women’s Basketball); Laura Matthews (Head Coach, Softball); Dr. Warren Copeland (Religion); Dr. Stefne Broz (Communication); Dr. Ray Dudek (Chemistry); Dr. Katie Warber (Communication); Dr. Darlene Brooks Hedstrom (History); Dr. Michelle McWhorter (Biology); Dr. Daniel McInnis (Photography); Dr. Christine McIntyre (Foreign Languages and Literatures); Dr. Christian Raffensberger (History); Dr. Alejandra Gimenez-Berger (Art); Dr. Julius Bailey (Philosophy); Dr. Jennifer Oldstone-Moore (Religion); Dr. Patrick Reynolds (Theater); Dr. Matthew Smith (Communication); Dr. Rick Incorvati (English); Dr. Nona Moskowitz (Sociology); Daniel Kazez (Music); Linda Lauffenburger (Director of Student Counseling); Dr. Edward Hasecke (Political Science); David Crean (University Organist); Dr. Don Reed (Philosophy); Dr. Catherine Waggoner (Communication); Dr. Molly Wood (History); Dr. Amber Burgett (Biology); Dr. Roberta Linder (Education); Dr. Frederick Tiffany (Economics); Jack Mann (Art); The Wittenberg Women’s Soccer Team; Dr. Elizabeth George (Physics); Dr. Brandon Jones (Music); Dr. Joshua Paddison (History); Dr. David Schubert (Music); Dr. Amy Livingstone (History); Dr. Clifford Brown (Psychology); Leah Poiner (Assistant, Athletics Department); Dr. David Nibert (Sociology); Dr. Lauren Crane (Psychology); Douglas Lehman (Director of Thomas Library and Associate Professor); Dr. Doug Andrews (Statistics)