When a woman enters a bathroom stall almost anywhere on Georgetown University's campus, she is immediately confronted with the ongoing battle between the stickers that adorn the inside of the stall doors. The university supplies stickers with information about its pregnancy support services while H*yas for Choice, Georgetown's (unofficial) pro-choice organization, covertly distributes stickers that provide contact information for Planned Parenthood and instructions on how to obtain emergency contraception (EC).
So why the clash between the two groups? Why the conflict that leads people to tear down stickers or write nasty comments in the margins? The answer is even more troubling than the fact that these people enjoy writing while sitting on the toilet.
The battle wages because Georgetown's Pregnancy Support Services is a Crisis Pregnancy Center. The services they provide accord with the university's Jesuit Catholic identity, as does the fact that condoms are not provided anywhere on campus by the university and that a woman can only obtain the birth control pill if she plans to use for reasons other than contraception.
The services that Georgetown offers pregnant students are geared entirely toward women who intend to stay pregnant, as if no other option even exists. There is no mention of an alternative (you know, like the A-word), simply a list of resources to help students "handle" their pregnancies.
The only off-campus resource that the center's website lists is the Northwest Center, whose slogan "Creating life and inspiring hope since 1983" practically screams pro-life propaganda.
This isn't to imply that Georgetown does not offer a wealth of resources and assistance to fully care for pregnant students. But I take extreme issue with the fact that Georgetown does not provide students with all the available options for dealing with pregnancy. These services, intended to give students a place to turn in a time of need, end up completely alienating those who choose to terminate their pregnancy, or even those who wish to discuss the possibility of doing so.
Ironically, the slogan that adorns all of those bathroom stickers reads, "You are not alone." That is only true if your decisions align with the beliefs of Georgetown University and, ultimately, the Catholic Church.
H*yas for Choice seeks to make good on the university's promise. We provide comprehensive information to students, not only regarding pregnancy, but covering all aspects of reproductive health and contraception. One way students can access these resources is through those stickers we place on bathroom doors. For a more complete list, they can visit our website at any time, or our table every Monday and Thursday between 10 am and 4 pm. We provide information, contacts, and also free condoms for anyone.
Many people view our organization as antithetical and antagonistic to the university. These are typically the same people who rip down or deface our stickers. However, the message we work to promote is one of cooperation. We realize that Georgetown's Jesuit affiliation limits it in certain regards, and so we work to supplement these shortcomings.
We are Georgetown students caring for our fellow students – not some renegade group trying to tear down the establishment by flooding the campus with condoms. In the face of a lack of information and resources, H*yas for Choice exists to fill in the gaps.
And, of course, to provide quality bathroom reading material.