On May 2, 2022, the decision for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization leaked, revealing that the Supreme Court intended to overturn the highly contentious Roe decision and the constitutional right to abortion. Brisa Kane ‘25 was in Lutnick 202 doing homework with her friends when she received word of the decision. “I was in shock. We were all in shock,” said Kane. “We needed a space to talk about what was happening and what it would mean for us.”
The group of students set aside their work and talked for more than four hours, discussing how they could transform their initial emotions of anger, hurt, and fear into change. This Monday afternoon discussion between friends would become the inaugural meeting of Haverford Students for Reproductive Health.
Since its inception as an official Haverford club in the Fall of 2022, Haverford Students for Reproductive Health has operated independently but has considered partnering with the Haverford Democrats to take on certain political legislative activist projects, particularly surrounding the uncertainty of the outcome of the Pennsylvania fall election.
The club held an open community discussion about the impact of Dobbs, providing Haverford students with a space to openly share their feelings on the future of reproductive healthcare. At the start of the 2022-23 academic year, they co-hosted a sex education workshop with Planned Parenthood which aimed to give Haverford students quality education on safe sexual practices and reproductive health. However, the group aimed to increase their impact further.
Peer Mentor Program Lead Estrella Pacheco ‘25 noted shortly into their time on the Haverford campus that although Haverford students were promised access to reproductive health resources, more often than not, they were not available: “I noticed that Health Services said that they offered condoms, but they weren’t easily locatable or accessible.” Frustrated about the lack of access, Pacheco attempted to address the disparities by asking their RSL to put condoms in the bathroom but still wanted to increase the number of students who had access to complimentary resources.
In its initial stages, the club considered partnering with Health Services; not only would this have allowed the resources that Health Services provides to become more easily accessible on campus, but a partnership would have meant greater access to project funding and additional resources, such as emergency contraceptive pills. Unfortunately, Dante Nguyen ‘25, one of the board members heavily involved in conversations with Health Services and administration, described encountering a frustrating red tape process:
“We were still trying to figure out what was allowed and not allowed. Willy [Aguilar Montenegro ‘25] and I were getting a lot of wrap-around answers from people,” said Nguyen. “It was a very difficult process because it seemed very disorganized. It was also a liability issue, such as what would happen if someone got sick from Plan B [an emergency contraceptive pill], or what would happen if someone didn’t take it properly. They were also worried about what would happen if a pregnancy test came back positive. Their biggest concerns with us and wanting to shut us down had to do with the ‘what ifs,’ and how they didn’t want us to be responsible. It had a very twisted, altruistic feeling at the center. They didn’t want us to experience any negative consequences, but didn’t explore any alternatives with us.”
Following the process with health services, Pacheco revisited their first-year frustration, wanting to ensure that both informational and physical resources for reproductive health still protected by law would be easily accessible to Haverford community members. Pacheco started developing the Haverford Reproductive Health Peer Mentor project, alongside Bridge Schaad ‘25, the group’s existing Secretary, as a program co-head. “I’ve always been interested in this sort of thing and had considerable experience with peer sexual health resources from high school,” said Schaad.
Marked by a green ribbon—the international symbol of reproductive health and rights—peer mentors are carefully vetted and coached on cultural competency and confidentiality to ensure they can effectively assist students in navigating and managing their reproductive health by providing physical and informational resources. Students who are interested to learn more about the program, seeing the full roster of peer mentors, and learning more about the club can reach out on Instagram or via email.
Currently limited by budgeting, the Peer Mentor program hopes to expand the reproductive health resources available to students and expand the scope of the Peer Mentor program to include other public health resources such as fentanyl test strips and Narcan. Other board members are working on a partnership with Residential Life and other on-campus organizations—including those at Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore—to further address issues of access.
“The program is really about just filling gaps. Having these resources offered and accessible is a big part of equity,” says Pacheco. “A lot of people can’t go to CVS and purchase their overpriced condoms and pregnancy tests. It’s not about getting there, it’s about who can afford it. Going to Health Services isn’t always accessible because although they offer condoms, they aren’t easily locatable.”
“Peer mentorship is also about letting students know that other students care for them and are there for them,” says Schaad. “When we have conversations about sexual health, stigma, and cultural differences often come up. The Peer Mentor program is a great way to start these conversations and increase cultural understanding.”
Regardless of the future steps of the Peer Mentor program, or future projects, one important feature remains the same. In describing the goals of the project, each board member emphasized the need for community involvement: “We have ways for students to get in contact with us about the Peer Mentor program. We have feedback forms so that students can talk to us about their experiences using peer mentors. Vivi [Glick ‘25] will be doing a lot of the internal stuff with reviewing that, and we’ll use that information to help develop and change our program. It’ll also inform what we do with our ResLife program,” said Pacheco.
Kane echoed the same sentiment: “The most important thing is spreading this. Even if you can’t contribute to committees or the Peer Mentor program, if you encounter a lack of supplies, let us know.”