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It has become apparent that the University has had no services or support in place to help girls worried about or going through pregnancy since its closure of the Nurse Unit.
The Nurse Unit, closed over the Christmas holiday after the University pulled its funding, used to provide a service for girls which included offering pregnancy testing kits costing 50p and acting as a source of support and advice.
LUSU’s current advice is to visit your GP, as there are no longer medical professionals able to handle such cases within the University. However, this advice is poorly signposted and not easily accessible. The online Health & Wellbeing advice pages on the LUSU website have not been updated since summer 2009, and the most recent advice on pregnancy is dated August 29, 2008. This merely advised on protecting against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, offering no advice on dealing with the repercussions were such situations to arise.
The only advice offered on pregnancy is dated May 2, 2008, and the advice is obsolete due to the Nurse Unit’s closure. It advised girls to visit the Nurse Unit where they will be able to take a urine test, and advertises the 50p testing kits which used to be available from the Nurse Unit.
“The closure of the Nurse Unit is a loss in resource to anyone seeking advice, including those worried about pregnancy, and that the loss of this service is a problem,” said Furness’ Female Ed & Welfare Officer, Priya Jadeja.
A pregnancy guidance group does meet on campus on Saturday mornings, but it is unclear when and where this group meets. The group is independent of LUSU, the University or the Health Centre, and it is ambiguous who runs this group and its purpose.
Several college Female Ed & Welfare Officers have also made clear that girls worried about pregnancy can come to their officers, where they could point them in the direction of other avenues of support and guidance.
Similarly, Eleanor Whitmore, President of the Christian Fellowship, said that the Chaplaincy Centre would be a source of support. She expressed her concern that “many pregnant girls may simply drop out of their courses,” and that “LUSU should raise their awareness in helping and letting women know that they are there for them.”
Nevertheless, beyond the GP service there remains a lack of support provided by the University, be it emotional help for people in this situation or aid for those looking for general advice on safe sex and the risk of pregnancy.
History student Vicky Cross has been disappointed by the lack of support available to her since she found out she was pregnant. “The GP service is great, but you only get a 10 minute appointment every few weeks. It would be nice if there was some sort of support group available for students in this situation,” she said. She added, that “being pregnant is difficult for anyone. But it’s particularly hard when you’re away from home and trying to keep up on all you’re reading and coursework.”
Second Year student Charlotte Hill worried that “the lack of services could mean a lack of proper healthcare for both mothers and babies,” whilst Pendle student Zoe George said, “it seems to a show a general prejudice towards girls who have decided to make such an important step in their lives to keep and bring up a child. They would benefit from more support from the University.”
Student Amy Baker agreed. “The lack of services is a problem, especially in emergencies.” She added that she feels “the health centre is too public. The Nurse Unit was definitely the place to go on campus for pregnant students who need help.”