With the overturning of Roe v. Wade this past summer, there are many unanswered questions. As of now, Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh continue to protect medical anonymity and the right to choose for Assigned Female at Birth (AFAB) people. A notice sent out earlier this semester from the associate dean of student wellness, Dr. Jay Darr, assured students that their rights to medical access and anonymity will be protected.
“Our Student Health Services (SHS) team will continue to serve as trusted health care providers for the University’s student body and provide confidential, full spectrum gynecologic, reproductive, and contraceptive care and management,” Darr said.
As a Pitt Greensburg student, the question may be, “That’s great and all, but what are my options here?” Nurse Pamela Freger has the answer. When it comes to sexual health on campus, the first place to seek out would usually be the nurse. Nurse Freger’s office is on the top floor of Chambers Hall in Student Life and Success.
Upon entering Nurse Freger’s office, there are a few bins of supplies. At least one of these bins has condoms. Everything in these bins, including the condoms are completely free. While it may seem daunting to go to the school nurse for a condom, she has also made it clear that her office is judgment free, and no questions will be asked.
“Condoms are your first line of defense. I have just as many girls as guys access condoms. I do have female condoms as well… And they’re free. You can come in and grab as many as you want,” Freger said.
You don’t even need to speak to her when coming in. It’s as simple as sneaking in, and sneaking back out.
Above her supplies, she has posted fliers of resources and a rack of pamphlets regarding health. A majority of these involve sexual health screenings, and booklets that give information on symptoms, and preventative measures. All listed are also free for student use, and it is encouraged these are used if there is a health concern.
It is important to note as well, all hot lines and outside resources given in Nurse Freger’s office are local to Greensburg. [Continue to the end of this article for resources near you.]
One of the resources near and around campus is Planned Parenthood. Not many students know about the Greensburg Planned Parenthood, located behind the Barnes and Noble. In the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood is one of the more well known, and one of the more controversial resources we have in this country.
A misconception of Planned Parenthood is that it is an abortion clinic, rather than a sexual health clinic. The branch in Greensburg does not even provide abortions, rather referrals should a patient choose to take that route of healthcare.
Natalie Maxino, a freshman student with an undecided major, but an interest in sexual healthcare, was an intern at her local Planned Parenthood. She comments that most misconceptions about the clinic are primarily based on false information.
“I think people will make assumptions based on the things they think are associated with it… I think it just depends on a person’s background.”
While working at Planned Parenthood, the services she helped provide were primarily STD testings, and prescription birth controls.
“Off the top of my head, you can get access to STI testing, you can also get access to emergency contraceptives and I also know that if you’re under 18 you can get an IUD placed… Generally speaking [contraceptives are] available at PP and with insurance it’s less [expensive],” Maxino said.
Planned Parenthood takes most insurances, and if a patient is not insured, they offer specialized payment plans based on the income of the patient’s household. This is in an attempt to keep their services affordable for anyone. While they are not accepting walk-ins at the moment, you can make an appointment online, or over the phone.
Planned Parenthood is not the only resource in the Greensburg area providing support to students. Dr. Sheila Confer, faculty advisor to La Femme and PAWS [Pro-Activism With Service], expands on the services students can find outside of campus. There are a handful of resources in Westmoreland County, but the main working with Pitt-Greensburg campus are Adagio Health and Blackburn Center.
Nurse Freger as well as Dr. Confer said that hopefully in the near future, Adagio Health, a women’s health clinic, will be coming to campus offering free STI and HIV testing to students.
Blackburn Center, as many know, is a counseling resource. While getting tested or prescriptions refilled is not possible, Blackburn is a wonderful resource for crisis situations. If there is any situation where a student need help mentally, especially in a physical situation, this is the place to go.
Despite all resources, there is still the concern that students may lose access to these resources entirely. When asked, Dr. Confer stated that she believes this is a valid concern. However, this is not set in stone. As students, you may not be able to force reform, but there are steps you can take.
One of the most important things is to vote. Let your voices be heard politically. Your voice, and your vote always matter. Perhaps not as obviously though, talk to your peers.
“What I find when I do talk to students about these things, that everybody is not polarized. Everyone is in the middle somewhere,” Confer said.
Finding common ground may not be as difficult as it seems. Having conversation with your peers can open sides of the argument you perhaps hadn’t considered, or you will gain the opportunity to educate where it is necessary. Unfortunately, in situations similar to this one, it is often a lack of exposure that can cause the great divide between opinions. Sharing experiences, and knowledge is a powerful way to start a narrative in a positive way.
Taking a more active approach, students can involve themselves in activist organizations. This could include joining a club on campus, such as La Femme and PAWS. Both of these activist clubs primarily focus on human rights such as the consequences of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
PAWS, a new club on campus, is already making a name for themselves by leaving free sanitary items in bathrooms around campus. Dr. Confer states that they hope to continue by opening conversations about topics such as abortion, and why what we know may not be the whole truth.
La Femme is an older group but a big talking point on campus. Every year they host a number of events opening the conversation to ease the taboo nature of sex and health. They have events ranging from something as simple as selling suggestive candy, to something as serious as events where any and every question a student may have is answered completely judgment free.
Beyond campus organizations though, students may seek out local activism organizations such as VOW [Voice of Westmoreland].
“VOW is a non-partisan group that advocates for issues important to the people of Westmoreland County. They try to help get people registered to vote, they try to educate people on a lot of different issues.” Dr. Confer explains. “That would be a fantastic organization for students.”
There are many different ways to be heard on campus and outside of campus. Ultimately the most important thing to remember in a situation like this is that as students, and as a community, is to listen to each other and keep educated, keep updated with the news.
Greensburg Planned Parenthood
Address: 125 Nature Park Rd, Greensburg, PA 15601
Phone: (724) 552-0352
Address: 660 Pellis Road Suite 102, Greensburg, PA 15601
Address: 1011 Old Salem Rd, Greensburg, PA 15601
Phone: (888) 832-2272
Nurse Pamela Freger
Room: CH 216