Opinion: ASU needs to implement initiatives to help pregnant women

Pregnant on Campus is one organization that helps pregnant women balance life as students and parents

Many ASU students fear unplanned pregnancies, as pregnancy brings many changes in a woman’s physical, academic and emotional health. 

But ASU lacks the fundamental resources on campus, such as prenatal care, that pregnant women need to succeed in their studies while maintaining their needs during child-bearing. 

Young college women who discover they are pregnant are often put in a place of uncertainty.  They have to make hard decisions that will greatly affect their lives. But college is not always a safe place to do that. 

They may struggle with the decision of whether to terminate or continue their pregnancies, which can have a strong effect on their academic and professional careers. Regardless of this decision, they should be supported throughout the process by University resources.

While it provides some resources, ASU still has a way to come in fully supporting pregnant students. For example, there is no pregnancy clinic or center specifically meant for pregnant women on campus. Additionally, while ASU Health Services does offer pregnancy tests, prenatal care and ultrasounds are not provided on campus.

Some may see this as asking for too much, but it's not without precedent. In fact, our university neighbor just more than 100 miles to the south, Banner - University Medical Center Tucson Campus at UA provides a variety of services for pregnant women, including ultrasounds and prenatal care.

Stefanie Schroeder, medical director at ASU Health Services, said that she believes ASU provides ample resources for pregnant women.

"At the health center, like all assets of the University, we seek to find out what the student needs, and how to connect into available services either within the university or in the community," Schroeder said. “Fundamentally, we are here to make sure they are in a safe supportive environment while attending school at ASU.”

Nearly 47 percent of undergraduate students at ASU are female, which means the University should have strong campus initiatives regarding pregnancy for female students.  

“The physical changes may make it harder for a student to get around campus," Schroeder said. "Health care provider’s appointments and the timing of the delivery may interfere with their class and exam schedule."

ASU is an accepting and diverse space that strives to encourage students to pursue excellence in every walk of life. But unfortunately, pregnant women at ASU may feel marginalized or disheartened because of the lack of campus resources. 

ASU’s vast and spread out campus may pose trouble for pregnant women to navigate as they enter later months of their pregnancy, although the DART services may assist pregnant women in getting around campus, Schroeder said. 

Under Title IX, universities are prohibited from discriminating against gender and race in educational programs and activities, this would include pregnant students. 

ASU Health Services does not track the number of pregnant students on campus, but it is important that it begins initiative programs to ensure the continued success of pregnant students. 

These initiatives are already happening from different organizations on campus. 

One example of such an initiative at the student organization level is the ASU Pregnant on Campus Initiative, which connects pregnant ASU students with resources such as adoption agencies or diaper drives and provides emotional support for women through letter writing from other ASU students that can encourage and inspire them during an often difficult time. 

“Pregnant on Campus is the bridge between students and resource centers and other care that they may need," said Jessica Figoni, outreach chair at ASU Pregnant On Campus. "We connect students to pregnancy resource centers and do drives for items pregnant mothers may need including baby clothes, diapers and bottles."

Initiatives that support women and their choices are imperative to the success of pregnant students here on ASU's campus. Though the group is pro-life and sponsored by ASU Students For Life, it provides an important source of support for women throughout pregnancy.   

Pregnant on Campus is committed to ensuring proper care, providing of resources and emotional help in a way that ASU could learn from, encourage and potentially follow. 

Reach the columnist at nlplunke@asu.edu or follow @ninalplunkett on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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