Gestational diabetes screening, annual well-women visits, breast-feeding support, domestic violence screening, cervical cancer screening and all FDA-approved birth control methods (including the morning-after pill) will be covered along with a few other services at absolutely no cost – not even a penny – to insured women. It’s important to know that even though these free services are set to start next August, some women might not see the changes until January 2013 depending on their insurance company.
Various services are required to be free under Obama’s health care law. The only real fuss seems to be around free birth control and the morning-after pill. Most women would like to be in control of their pregnancy, but are free methods to prevent pregnancies actually helping or hurting women? Is this new ruling a form of the
government telling us we need to stop having children at the rate we are? Who’s really in control here?
Lauren Olson, a 22-year-old senior political science and women’s and gender studies double major, has been taking birth control since she was 16. She started taking birth control before she became sexually active and didn’t use it as a reason to have sex. She currently takes a generic brand of birth control pills, which she says have been just as effective as branded contraceptives but at a lower price.
“I feel free birth control is an important step toward sexual equity because this is something men do not have to pay for,” Olson says. “I also think it’s really good to have the government acknowledge that oral contraceptives are preventable medicine and are a legitimate need for a lot of people.”
There are many opinions surrounding the fact that birth control, which includes the morning-after pill, will be free to women under private insurance companies. Some critics claim that the government is practically paying for so-called abortions. Others appreciate the bill for what it does and hope it will lower the teen pregnancy rate. Olson says the new bill will make using birth control normative for teenagers and young adults instead of forcing women to limit their chances of reproduction.
“I don’t think it’s a government campaign pushing people to take birth control,” Olson says. “Some people may think this bill will give people permission to go have sex, and I disagree. Teenagers are going to have sex anyway.”
Yashica Washington, a 21-year-old biology and psychology major at MU, feels differently about the government’s motive to make birth control free to women across the country.
“A lot of younger women are getting pregnant, but I think a lot more people would take advantage of birth control since it’ll be free and decrease the number of abortions,” says Washington, who has been taking the birth control pill since she was 17 years old. She spends about a hundred dollars a year on it.
Obama can’t stop teenagers from engaging in sexual activities, but his administration can provide options to assure the most active teenage couple will not have to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Olson believes the age limit to purchase the Plan B morning-after pill should be lowered to 14 years old instead of the current age of 17. After all if one is old enough to engage in sexual activity, one should be old enough to protect herself or himself as well.
Whether teenagers or women over the age of 50 decide to partake in these services, free birth control will remain a positive change in women’s health. It might help decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies and give access to services women might not have had before. Most importantly, it will put women in control of their birth control.