Guest Commentary: Help make birth control affordable
A law passed by Congress left many college women asking a question they should never have to ask – birth control or groceries?
The Deficit Reduction Act, passed in 2005, did away with nominal pricing for pharmaceutical companies to continue supplying oral contraceptives to campus health centers at heavily discounted rates. This caused the price of birth control to go up to $40 from $10 on our own campus and by as much as 900 percent in other schools.
With the financial strain that seems to go hand in hand with being in college, women who rely on oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy literally cannot afford to have this additional burden placed on them. Although the primary intent of the law was to reduce the deficit, this particular aspect of the law does not work toward that end. It is just a quirk in the law, but college women across the country have felt its impact.
Birth control has other uses other than preventing pregnancy, such as treating painful menstruation, polycystic ovarian disease and endometriosis. An increase in the price of birth control will surely lead to other increases: in the number of women who have to turn to emergency contraception, in the number of abortions and in the number of women who leave school because of unintended pregnancies. The fact is, birth control is basic healthcare for women, and as such, should be readily available and affordable.
Thankfully, we have a chance to remedy this legislative error. The Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, introduced in 2007 by Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-NY, in the House, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Miss., will restore campus health centers’ ability to purchase birth control at a greatly reduced price, lowering the price of birth control for students at no cost to taxpayers.
Congress has had more than enough time to pass this legislation, but progress has been slow. We can change this by letting our congressional representatives know we want affordable birth control restored to college campuses. Contact Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison at (202) 224-5922 and tell her University of Houston students support Prevention Through Affordable Access (S. 2347).
Diane Aguirre, a political science sophomore, can be reached via [email protected]