Sexual violence impacts a survivor’s need for and ability to access reproductive healthcare in a variety of ways. Survivors may need emergency contraceptives (which stop a pregnancy before it occurs, and do not impact an existing pregnancy,) or medications that make it less likely they’ll contract HIV or other STIs. They may need treatment for injuries as a result of the assault. And they are more likely to experience economic hardship and trauma, making access to affordable, accessible long-term mental healthcare essential.
Survivor autonomy is a core principle of the sexual violence victim services field. Survivors know what is best for their lives and recovery, and advocates and healthcare providers should respect their wishes, especially about sensitive issues like reproductive healthcare. On Tuesday, February 28th, LaFASA hosted a briefing in Lafayette with Sonja Spoo of Catholics for Choice, which approaches the issue of autonomy from a framework of conscience. Sonja provided an overview of the impact of individual conscience and institutional policies in Catholic healthcare facilities. Catholic healthcare systems have provided essential care, especially in low-income and rural communities, for centuries. Currently, Catholic hospitals are the only healthcare option in many areas, with mergers increasing that number every year. Unfortunately, many institutions have policies around access to emergency contraceptives and other healthcare that runs counter to survivor conscience and autonomy, the judgement of doctors and medical providers, and even the Ethical and Religious Directives – guidance for Catholic healthcare facilities issued by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops which allows emergency contraceptives in the case of sexual violence. Additionally, some Catholic providers may not know about the Directives and believe that they are not allowed to provide or make referrals for emergency contraceptives, or may not think it is their duty to ensure their patient gets appropriate care. All these obstacles make it more likely that a survivor will become pregnant as a result of rape.
LaFASA wants to ensure that sexual assault survivors across the state have access to the care they need, so we are holding a fundraiser to provide emergency contraceptives when institutional policy or provider beliefs block access. You can see our Facebook event page for our April 2nd Plan B Fundraiser Show here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/LaFASAorg/events/?ref=page_internal . LaFASA will continue to work to ensure that survivors are able to access forensic exams, treatment after an assault, and medical and mental healthcare across their lifespan. We invite you to join us in this fight!
If you are unable to attend our Plan B Fundraiser Show, you can donate here. All of your donation will go toward purchasing emergency contraception for survivors. Each dose costs $20, but any donation is greatly appreciated. If you would like to donate a different amount, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org