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The Birth Control Debate: How it Concerns You and How You Can help

Recently there has been a lot of news and talk in the media about birth control. The conversation can often be difficult to follow closely and make sense of how it directly affects you.

Here is what you need to know:
The Obama administration announced last year that the Affordable Care Act would essentially allow women with insurance to obtain birth control with NO co-pay.  

This was a huge success for the advancement of women’s reproductive rights, and it attracted wide support from Congress.

However, the proposal also caused controversy. Anti-contraception politicians opposed the bill, saying birth control coverage should only be available to women who can afford it. This backlash targeted certain demographics of women — female college students included.

Most college students can relate to living on a tight budget, often living week-to-week and sticking to a strict budget. This financial constraint limits students’ spending options, and many college women report that they struggle paying for birth control or simply can’t afford it at all.

While birth control is most commonly intended to prevent pregnancy, there are many medical uses for it.  For instance, birth control can assist in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is becoming a more prevalent health concern among women.  Many also get prescribed birth control to regulate their menstrual cycle, and some women consume it for the purpose of regulating their hormones.  

This information is notable because it demonstrates the importance of birth control for reasons other than pregnancy prevention.  Furthermore, this underlines the necessity for extensive birth control coverage because it is a type of preventative medicine.  

Many preventative medicines, such as vaccines, wellness visits and mammograms are already available without co-pay.

The passage of this legislation would be monumental for women because it would be one of the best ways to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the need for abortions.  It would also help women who can’t afford to pay the co-pay or insurance, which is a considerable proportion of the population since 33 percent of women struggle to pay for their birth control.

One of the main concerns of the bill’s advocates is that such a significant piece of legislation is being decided by men who have never nor will ever experience the struggle of obtaining birth control.  This opinion was expressed recently by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

She said, “Where are the women? Imagine having a panel on women’s health and they don’t have any women on the panel.”

In defense of the panel, it did have two female members but both opposed the bill.  

Women all across the United States are speaking out about their concerns and lending their support in many different forms–social media, contacting their representatives, signing petitions, etc.

The bill would make birth control available to insured women for no cost, which means exactly how it sounds: FREE!  Depending on the type of insurance coverage, currently deductibles can range from $10-$50, and in some cases more.  It’s also important to remember this is a monthly cost.

So, hopefully if you’re currently on birth control or are planning to get on it in the future, then you see the tremendous personal effect that the current legislation has.  For women, especially young women and students, this isn’t just another political debate.

It is salient to our lives.  As mentioned earlier, women are taking the initiative and getting involved in the campaign.  If you feel moved to join the movement, there are a variety of possible ways to make an impact:

Social Media- Use your Facebook and/or Twitter account to spread awareness and voice your opinion. You can show your support by stating something as simple as “I support Affordable Care Act (or something like Birth Control for All)!” or if you want to spread more awareness, post a link to an article or a petition.

Sign a Petition- Petitions are an easy way to get involved and lend your support. There are many different forms of petitions around but here is a link to one: http://tinyurl.com/SaveBCPetition

Share your story- Sharing how important birth control coverage is for you is a good way to show others how personal it is but also how pervasive it is.

Go to an event- lookout for upcoming events on campus to be held as it is an ongoing issue that’s growing into a powerful movement!

Disclaimer: This article does not cover the entire specificity of legislation and news; additionally this is an ongoing, dynamic issue so please do not interpret this as a complete analysis.

Sources:

Statistics and facts came from information provided by NARAL Pro-Choice  http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/

Nancy Pelosi (photo) : huffingtonpost.com; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/16/nancy-pelosi-gop-birth-control_…

Birth control pills (photo): jezebel.com; http://cache.jezebel.com/assets/images/39/2012/02/609d2e7d3ad8ee0804cc61…

Obama signing Affordable Care Act (photo): accessboard.gov; http://www.access-board.gov/news/medical-equipment.htm

Affordable Care Act banner (photo): democraticleader.gov; http://www.democraticleader.gov/news/reports?id=0520

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