Contraceptive pills distributed by VCU Student Health Services could have a limited shelf time.
In a letter Tuesday to VCU President Eugene P. Trani, Delegate Robert G. Marshall, R- Prince William, requested that the university stop distributing emergency contraceptive pills (Plan B) because he considers them abortion pills.
“State law says that if a woman gets an abortion she has to be given fully informed consent,” Marshall said Tuesday by phone at his home in Manassas. “You can go to any biology book and see that this (Plan B) is a forms of early abortion.”
Delegate Marshall’s questions to President Eugene P. Trani
*When did the University first authorize this?
*Was it done with the approval of the Board of Visitors?
*How many VCU students have purchased ECs since VCU first offered ECs?
*What portion/amount of student fees is for the support of the VCU Health Clinic?
*By whose authority are EC prescriptions dispensed and issued?
*Is the person dispensing EC from VCU a licensed pharmacist?
*What legal authority does the VCU clinic have for providing or dispensing EC
*Does state General Fund money pay for the salaries for the salaries or other operations of the clinic?
In his letter to Trani, Marshall contends that VCU’s Office of Health Promotion violates section 18.2-76 of the Code of Virginia’s informed consent requirements for abortion. After receiving a similar letter, James Madison University’s Board of Visitors voted last Friday to discontinue the distribution of Plan B. Many JMU students are fighting the board’s decision. By early Wednesday, JMU students had gathered 2,700 signatures requesting the board to reverse the decision.
Plan B recently has been challenged in legislation because Marshall and others insist that the levongestral pills are used as a form of early abortion.
“What we are doing now is considered standard of care at VCU Health System. Plan B is not considered an abortion drug as far as any legal issues are concerned,” said Betty Reppert, associate director of Student Health Services. “It has yet to be seen whether or not the board will even address this letter.”
The delegate asks Trani eight questions in his letter, including when VCU first authorized the use of these pills, how many VCU students have purchased these methods and what legal authority the university has in administering the pills.
Moreover, Marshall argues that VCU’s Consent Form for Emergency Contraception misinforms its readers by calling the pills contraceptives. The consent form states that the pills prevent ovulation, fertilization and also implantation. Marshall opined that the inhibition of implantation equals abortion.
“When students are given Plan B they are given written consent on how the pill works,” Reppert said. “Both Student Health Services and our pharmacy are accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health-Care Services and regulated by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.”
Plan B consists of progesterone, an ovulation-inhibiting chemical that can be found in birth-control pills, which also is released naturally during breastfeeding. Instructions for use call for the pill to be taken 72 hours after unprotected sex. Plan B has been distributed by student health between 200 and 250 times a year since 1997.
“I don’t see any reason why we should be subsidizing Plan B,” Marshall stated. “Do you really think that parents around Virginia send their kids to VCU to get this?”
He quotes former Planned Parenthood national medical director, Dr. Abraham Stone, in his definition of “contraception” and “abortion.” Stone is quoted in Marshall’s letter as saying that any mechanical, chemical or biological method that prevents implantation is tampering with “life that has already begun.”
Plan B, Marshall said, fits into this definition of abortion.
Additionally, Marshall cites the code as stipulating a fine with a $2,500 civil penalty per violation if these abortion concerns aren’t addressed promptly.