Abortions Now Covered For All Columbia Students

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Artist's interpretation of the fund

A lot has happened in the two weeks since Bwog broke the story of abortions no longer being covered for many Columbia students. Spec wrote an article, then an editorial, Jezebel posted about the issue, and the Dems launched a major publicity campaign—complete with high-profile endorsements from people like Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (who represents the East Side) and a Change.org petition with nearly 300 signatures. Apparently, all the publicity made a difference.

Last night, Health Services announced the creation of a discretionary fund to cover the cost of “special, time-sensitive healthcare needs”—including abortions, and possibly mental health or substance abuse treatment—for students without Columbia Health Insurance. This includes both full-time students without Columbia insurance and part-time students. The money for the fund won’t come from mandatory student health fees, so even anti-abortion students should be happy. The head of Columbia Right to Life actually told Spec the fund is “really good solution.”

Needless to say, the Dems also see the creation of fund as a really good solution. Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, CC ’15, has led the Dems campaign for abortion coverage. She spoke to Bwog about her reaction to the Health Services announcement.

“I’m cautiously happy,” she says. “Based on the language they used in the press release, it sounds like they’re doing exactly what we asked for.” Or more. The Dems only asked for a fund to cover all full-time students, but Health Services says their fund will also cover part-time students. “That’s kind of an added bonus!” says Ridolfi-Starr. But the campaign’s not over yet. Health Services says they’ll release details “in the next few weeks” regarding how students can apply to get money from the fund, and Ridolfi-Starr says she’ll be paying close attention to the details. “I’m perpetually paranoid that they’re taking the easy way out,” she admits.

Her biggest concern is whether the fund will have enough money to cover all the people who need it. Historically, the number of students going to Health Services to get coverage for abortions has been pretty small—about 4 per year—but part of that is because most students didn’t realize Health Services covered abortions. Now that many more students realize abortions are covered, the number will probably increase. Combine that with the fact that the fund will cover some non-abortion services, Ridolfi-Starr says, and it could get quite expensive to cover everything.

Those concerns aside, she’s happy that Health Services recognized the importance of covering abortions for students not on Columbia insurance. She just wishes they would have told her about it. “I am disappointed that they didn’t let me know,” she says. “I found out from a Spec reporter!”

Here’s the Health Services statement, with the most important parts in bold:

This month, students highlighted that the supplemental healthcare coverage previously provided via the Columbia Health Program Fee served an important role for certain students who were either uninsured or did not want to avail themselves of their non-Columbia insurance coverage. After considering these recently raised concerns, Columbia Health is establishing a new confidential discretionary fund for students enrolled in a degree program at Morningside to help cover special, time-sensitive healthcare needs, in a manner consistent with state and federal rules and regulations.

All full-time students are required to have healthcare coverage, either through the Columbia insurance plan or through a comparable external policy. More than two-thirds of full-time students are covered by the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan. Fewer than a third of full-time students typically opt out and are covered by other policies.

It is important to note that no change has been made to the range of student healthcare covered under the University-provided insurance. The Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan has covered and continues to cover, in a confidential manner, the healthcare issues that were addressed under the prior supplemental program.

Every year, Columbia re-evaluates the student healthcare services to ensure that the University provides comprehensive and cost-effective support to students. The review process is guided by the University Insurance Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from across the Columbia community.

In the spring of 2012, the Advisory Committee recognized that, to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the supplemental program would need to be expanded, essentially replicating the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan and comparable insurance provided by students or their parents. Therefore, the Advisory Committee deemed the supplemental program redundant and unnecessarily costly to all students. Columbia removed the supplemental program and reduced the mandatory Health Program Fee.

The new discretionary fund is for situations in which students choose for personal reasons not to avail themselves of their external healthcare coverage. It will also provide support to students whose health insurance does not include the necessary benefits, or who are part-time students not covered by health insurance. Financial support for the new fund will not be sourced from any mandatory student health fees. Details on access and procedures will be announced in the next few weeks.

Abortion money via Shutterstock

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  1. DS  

    GO ZOE congrats, girl!

    Also, shoutout to Dems for all of the amazing work (and hours) they have put into this. You all rock!

  2. Great.

    So glad now that even MORE women will be going around and one night standing with males so men have even less respect for women! Thank you Dems for turning women from the classy, delicate gender that we used to be, and making terms like "whores" and "sluts" more applicable to females! You don't even realize what you're doing. You're literally supporting the objectifying of women. With abortions more accessible, women will feel safe with having more random sex, and it will be easier for men to get as much sex as they want. Now men just go out and tall about the girls they screwed/are going to screw- they talk about us like objects!

    • no  

      Stop right there after "So glad now."

    • AndEnnuiGo  

      Ummmm...I know it's an election year and everything, but you don't even go here...and if you do, well...Troll harder next time and try not to use the word "classy." It's just not...well, classy.

      • Great.  

        ...do you think that there only democrats in this school?

      • AndEnnuiGo  

        We're at a standoff. This is where we might normally drag scientific, philosophical, and religious ideas about where human--that is to say, sentient, though we'd undoubtedly get sucked into debates about the semantics--life begins and what constitutes a human being (or a "future citizen," if you insist). Neither of us would give ground, because we're operating from fundamentally different views on the subject, and though I doubt we're terribly different from one another, this is a subject that quickly slips past reasonableness and into hyperemotionality, ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, and other silliness. I disagree with your position: I believe that the assertion that safe, legal access to abortion increases promiscuity is incorrect and that your argument is based on moral/religious grounds--lacking objective validity--rather than practical ones. That's my two cents. Please feel free to carry on with whatever outrage delights your heart.

    • I agree  

      What a troll. Because really everyone know that, if there's consent on all sides, I CAN HAVE SEX WHENEVER THE FUCK I WANT. :)

    • BSL

      You, sir, are a beacon of hope in a society plunging towards immorality and filth. I commend you.

  3. cc'14  


    you seem to be operating under that a belief in archaism, i.e. the days of the double-standard. there is so much wrong in this post concerning your view on how or where women should be socially and politically that I won't even begin to touch upon it. but, suffice to say, your ideology concerning gender politics is seriously skewed.

  4. looks good so far  

    Since it's Columbia's bureaucracy we shouldn't celebrate just yet, but this looks really good so far.

  5. The money for the fund won’t come from mandatory student health fees  

    Maybe I missed it in the article, but in that case where will it come from? Is that one of the things they will announce in the coming weeks?

    • Peter  (Bwog Staff)  

      Health Services has not yet announced where the money will come from. They've just said it won't be from mandatory student fees. Hopefully, they'll announce it in the next few weeks.

  6. Against  

    It's not that I'm completely against abortions, but is it really right to be supporting unprotected sex on a college campus, which is an effect of having readily available abortions?

    • AndEnnuiGo  

      Access to abortion ≠ promiscuity or unprotected sex. This is the straw man I just warned about. (P.S. the track button kind of gave you up.)

    • BC '15  

      It's not an effect. Do you really think people in this community are going to have more unprotected sex simply because abortions are easier to get, if necessary? I highly doubt that. It's a preventative measure, and I think CU students are aware of that. It's a procedure that no one wants to go through. It's incredibly insensitive of you to claim that the University is "supporting unprotected sex" by making abortions more accessible. Also, let's remind ourselves that nothing is 100% effective. There are innumerable unwanted pregnancies that still result from having used some form of birth control that failed.

    • haha

      so the university must have been supporting misogyny and bigotry when they admitted you, huh? you suck at trolling. go away.

    • omg.  

      Now that abortions are covered, women will just go around having sex every night with any man they can find and simply go get an abortion in the morning on the way to class.


  7. Van Owen  

    I want the umbilical cord!!!

  8. Ummm  

    Furthermore, there's nothing wrong with more sex on campus, as long as it's safe, sane and consensual.

    By the way, I'm a girl and I like sex as much as the next person.

  9. Anonymous

    This is disgusting. I guess it's just another step toward utopia.

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