Missouri’s abortion ban, effective as of June 24th, will have some effects on campus and has caused mixed reactions among students.
Several students have raised concerns about increasing mental health issues, an issue Madeline Harms, coordinator of University Counseling Services and the Truman Health Center, is aware of.
“There’s a variety of things that affect the mental health,” Harms said. “But I mean definitely not having close resources and having that ban will definitely trigger some people … we’ve already kind of started to see that as well and we’re handling it.”
Harms said students already seeing counselors have brought it up during sessions. The counselors continue to point them toward resources and help the clients as best they can.
Harms said she does not anticipate the number of clients needing counseling to increase, but the counseling center will continue to expand its services as there has been an increasing demand for them at Truman.
Savannah Bietz, the director at the Women’s Resource Center, said she had concerns about mental health worsening at Truman.
“It’s a concern for students to have an additional anxiety over what they already have to worry about while they’re at Truman,” Bietz said.
Bietz said she’s concerned about the combination of people with uteruses feeling like they don’t matter to the government, the stress of school and work and the knowledge that an already difficult decision has been taken away.
Her biggest concern is about the potential for suicide attempts to continue, Bietz said.
“Then, of course, there’s always the back of my mind thinking about what people did before abortion was legal, which was trying to do home abortions,” Bietz said. “I don’t know if anyone will be in a position desperate enough to do that, but I don’t like just assuming no one would do it when desperate times come about.”
Harms said that on the medical side, the health center will continue to provide forms of various birth control, pregnancy tests, condoms, and Plan B at a discounted price.
“Basically everything that we were doing before we’re still doing,” Harms said. “We’re still referring to abortion clinics out of state if a student needs that. We are here for the student and the patient and we just want to make sure that they are taken care of to our best ability and have all the resources.”
Bietz said the WRC can’t provide birth control but provides sexual health products such as condoms and lubricant outside of its office.
She wants people to know that the WRC is a great place to talk to someone since it’s a non-reporting crisis center. Though staff can’t give advice, they can point students to resources.
Bietz said the WRC is looking into steps such as working with reslife to provide condoms for Student Advisers to distribute to residents and creating a pamphlet showing abortion clinic options for students based on where they are. These measures are hypothetical, however, since all staff members have to discuss and agree to take them.
For anti-abortion students, the ban is a huge success, and shifts their approach on campus.
Alexandra Thornhill, a member of Students for Life, said one of the group’s main focuses was to provide resources to pregnant students and parents and that this was a focus that would likely become even larger.
“I could see us transitioning into doing even more of that,” Thornhill said. “But it is still a focus that we’re working to ban abortion and make it illegal in the U.S.”
Thornhill said it’s important for women to get medical help and discuss their situation and options with someone. She said it is a difficult decision regardless of the person’s beliefs, and SFL wants to be there for them, support them, and help them know they’re not alone.
For SFL and College Republicans, an organization Thornhill is also in, they don’t see their work as being done, she said.
“So I would say, personally, and from the people I’ve talked to in the College Republican club and the people I’ve talked to in the Students for Life club that we’re still fired up, we’re still ready to work for this,” Thornhill said.