The Health Center EC Network is a resource for Health Center staff members and students alike. Our new directory of Health Centers across the country provides students with information on the status of EC on their campus, and also connects health care professionals on different campuses to one another. With the Health Center EC Network students and health care professionals can stay up-to-date on information and news about EC, sign up to receive emails and alerts regarding emergency contraception, and download EC resources to use in your campus Health Center.
Health Centers are the primary health care providers for college students. Because of this, health center staff members are in a position to offer men and women on campus a variety of resources to promote comprehensive reproductive health care. Working with students, faculty, staff and administration, health center staff can help ensure that the campus is educated about Emergency Contraception (EC) and able to obtain it in a timely manner so that students who need it will lower their risk of unintended pregnancy.
EC is an extremely effective way to prevent pregnancy after any unprotected sexual encounter, including sexual assault or condom failure. Although EC is 75-88% effective for up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, it is 95% effective if taken within the first 24 hours after a sexual encounter. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, there are 3 million unintended pregnancies in the US each year. It is estimated that emergency contraceptive pills have the potential to cut in half the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States and prevent as many as 800,000 abortions a year.
Despite its effectiveness and safety, many people are unaware of what emergency contraception is and how it can benefit them. Moreover, many young women encounter barriers to obtaining EC when they need it.
Many campus health care centers do not offer EC or are closed on the weekends, leaving women unable to find timely access to an EC provider. A survey conducted by the Feminist Majority Foundation in 2005 found that 67% of non-religious college health centers provide EC but of these only 22% had weekend access to EC and only 47% provide advance prescriptions. Access to EC is much better at public schools than private institutions; whereas 78% of health centers at public colleges and universities provide EC, only slightly more than half of private school health centers offer EC. The survey finds that at almost 40% of the health centers which provide EC, individual staff can refuse to provide reproductive health care services based on their personal beliefs.
Health center staff members can help women on their campus by:
- Obtaining information about your campus’ s policy on emergency contraception
- If EC is available on campus, finding out the procedure for dispensing it to students
- Working with administration to make EC available, or more widely available, on campus
- Providing students with a list of local clinics or pharmacies where they can obtain EC if they can’t obtain it on campus
- Working to extend health center hours so that students can obtain EC in a timely manner
- Advertising information about EC, where students can obtain it and the availability of EC through the 24-hour nationwide EC-hotline, 888-NOT-2-LATE
- Serving as a mentor for the student activists and peer health educators; share experience and knowledge
- Working with feminist organizations, peer educators, or other student groups on campus to educate students about EC on campus
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