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RUS Proposes Changes In Women's Health Care

By Anne E. Bartlett

The Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) yesterday proposed changes in University Health Services (UHS), including the institution of a walk-in gynecological clinic, to make health care more responsive to women's needs.

The proposal is a response to complaints voiced in questionnaires distributed to Radcliffe students in March, Laura Steinhardt '78, a member of the RUS health care committee, said Sunday.

Eve Caligor '78, chairman of the committee said Sunday the gynecological clinic is the crucial change RUS is asking for. The clinic might combat long waits for birth control appointments, the problem women cited most frequently in an RUS questionnaire, she said.

Women have waited up to four weeks for appointments about contraception, she said.

Other proposals include objective contraceptive counseling, to prevent recurrence of instances of doctors pressuring women to use birth control pills, rather than other forms of contraception, and weight control programs.

The proposal criticizes the assumptions on the part of some UHS doctors that a heterosexual life is necessary for normality, pressuring those who have chosen such alternatives as homosexuality or abstinence, Steinhardt said.

Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of UHS, declined to comment yesterday on the suggestions until their feasibility has been investigated, although he agrees with "the basic goals of the letter."

Discussion of the proposals will not center on financial considerations, but on the possibility of integrating the programs into the current UHS operations, he said.

Katheryn Angell '74, assistant to the director, who advised the committee on the questionaires, said yesterday some of the suggestions could create as many problems as they could solve.

The proposal does not discuss problems that cannot be dealt with programatically, Caligor said. She mentioned as examples occasional complaints of doctors' condescension toward women, and reports of misdiagnosis of vaginal infections.

Caligor said the questionnaire and proposals are necessary because "people have a peculiar resistance to complaining to UHS. They don't think they know enough to complain, but when it comes to your own body, you have a valid opinion."

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