Rebekah Gee, daughter of Ohio State President Gordon Gee, spoke on a panel Thursday about issues surrounding women’s health and contraceptives.
Gee, who spoke at Physics Research Building, is an obstetrician gynecologist at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. In addition to serving on the national board for Planned Parenthood, she is also an adviser on women’s health for Sen. Barack Obama. She came to speak on behalf of The Institute on Women, a university organization that promotes women’s issues.
The panel started off by discussing the lawsuit that Gee and two of her colleagues filed in 2006 against Wal-Mart because the company did not stock the drug Plan B, an emergency contraceptive.Gee said that there was an ideological misunderstanding in Wal-Mart’s policy on carrying contraceptives. She said Plan B is a preventative contraceptive and does not abort the fetus if the patient is already pregnant.
The Massachusetts Pharmacy Board ruled that Wal-Mart needed to stock Plan B behind the counter in all of its Massachusetts branches before the case even went to trial. Wal-Mart began stocking Plan B at its national branches shortly after.
“Everyone liked the story because everyone loves to hate Wal-Mart,” Gee said.
The discussion shifted into the double standard of men’s and women’s health when Gee noted that Wal-Mart stocks many erectile dysfunction drugs despite its stance against female contraceptives.
“It’s OK for men to have ED and still have sex, but it’s not OK for women to have sex,” Gee said. She noted the lack of funding for women’s health care in the current administration. “The effect that the last eight years has had on science is chilling,” Gee said. She also pointed out that erectile dysfunction drugs get five times the amount of funding as female contraceptives.
Despite her success in the campaign for women’s health issues, Gee said she is threatened by far right-wing supporters who oppose her quest to bring women’s health to the forefront.
“I received death threats when I sued Wal-Mart,” Gee said. She still receives hate mail for her stance on contraceptives, but Gee offered a solution for pro-life supporters by noting that contraception is a way to avoid abortions.
Gee urged women to get politically involved and vote for the issues that are important to them. She said Obama’s policy on women’s health care would mandate funding for breast and cervical cancer, while there is virtually no women’s health policy in Sen. John McCain’s plan.
“Don’t take your rights for granted,” Gee said. “Advocate for what you believe in and don’t be afraid to speak up.”
Jason Cocca can be reached at email@example.com