Kirin Kowalski (left), Amina Mednicoff-Misra (center), and Anna Tjeltveit (right), members of The Wesleyan Democratic Socialists, distribute signs to inform the student body that the University agreed to meet their demands to cover healthcare costs related to abortion. Greg Miller / Connecticut Public

Wesleyan University has agreed to pay for emergency contraception and abortions for all students. The move comes after a petition gained over 700 signatures.

The campaign was started by the Wesleyan Democratic Socialists in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The group surveyed students across campus about the need for reproductive services.

Starting in fall 2023, the university will cover medical costs for abortion after insurance, transportation to and from the clinic and pain relief medication after the procedure.

The school said in a statement it will also provide emergency contraceptives like Plan B and ella for free.

Students feel emotionally and financially supported by Wesleyan, said Anna Tjeltveit, a Wesleyan Democratic Socialist member.

“It’s incredibly meaningful that the university is supporting its students in this way, especially in a national climate where abortion is so under threat,” she said, “for the university to say not only that all students have a right to access abortion — but that all students have a right to access affordable abortion.”

Coline McEachern and Anna Tjeltveit, members of the Wesleyan Democratic Socialists at Wesleyan University, hang a sign inside the Usdan University Center. Greg Miller / Connecticut Public

Amina Mednicoff-Misra, a co-chair of the Wesleyan Democratic Socialists, said that after they surveyed students, their organization found a huge demand at the university for reproductive services.

“There was a feeling of lack of support for reproductive concerns, just financially at the university, even if Connecticut is a state that supports reproductive health care. There was a feeling that we were the ones that would have to foot the bill. And that is just not affordable for everybody,” she said.

The university wrote in a statement that students will be able to access emergency contraceptives by consulting a nurse at Davison Health Center on campus, along with any other questions they have about other reproductive services.

“The University will rely on a student’s insurance plan to pay for abortion services but will offer financial assistance to any student whose insurance does not cover abortions,” the statement said. “At a time when reproductive freedom is being threatened around the country, Wesleyan is dedicated to providing students with support for free emergency contraception or for the decision to terminate a pregnancy.”

Tjeltveit said what happened at Wesleyan can happen at other universities, but it’s up to students to demand their health care needs are being met. “They did this because we asked and we put pressure on them,” she said.

“If we are taking action at a young age, what that means is we can build a better world. We can work with our neighbors, we can work with our community, and we can fight for reproductive health care. So it’s important to celebrate victories like this one,” Tjeltveit said.

This story was first published May 10, 2023 by Connecticut Public