James Madison Ends Ban on Emergency Contraception

After months of protest by students and reproductive health advocates, trustees of James Madison University in Virginia voted 10 to 2 earlier this month to reverse their decision to prohibit the campus health center from distributing emergency contraception. The trustees further granted “authority for all future health-related decisions pertaining to students to the administration and its staff,” as opposed to the trustees.

The make-up of the board of trustees has changed since it voted to ban emergency contraception (EC) in April. Three of the seven members who voted to ban EC have since left the board, and a fourth was absent on January 9 when the vote to reinstate EC was taken, according to the Washington Post. The original instigation for banning EC from the campus health center was a letter from anti-abortion Virginia Delegate Robert G. Marshall (R), who has been a force behind many anti-choice bills in the state legislature.

Students at JMU were outraged by the decision to prohibit EC. Sophomore Krissy Schnebel collected 2,700 student signatures and used them to draft a Student Government Association (SGA) Bill of Opinion asking the Board to reverse its decision. The SGA passed the bill 55-6. Because of her action to save EC at JMU, Schnebel was named one of the “50 Women Who Made a Difference” in the Winter 2003/Spring 2004 issue of Ms. magazine.

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Washington Post 1/10/04; Richmond Times-Dispatch 1/10/04; Ms. magazine Winter 2003/Spring 2004; Feminist Daily News Wire

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