A bitter pill

Uncle Sam gouges on birth control for college women
By MARY ANN SORRENTINO  |  September 12, 2007
Who would ever finger our federal government as the force responsible for thousands of unintended pregnancies on US campuses?
The federal Deficit Reduction Act — which went into effect in January — may do just that. It is forcing up the price of birth control pills for college women — to $30 to $50 a month, instead of $3 to $10 — this academic year through a convoluted formula that allows favored pharmaceutical companies to decide how they will use the act’s mandated state rebates.
Pharmaceutical company representatives say that deep campus discounts for contraceptives burden company profits. There’s no word yet on how much thousands of unintended pregnancies resulting from unaffordable birth control will cost the rest of us in perpetuity.
Female students traditionally have no health insurance or they may be covered under a parent’s plan, in which case they often pay out-of-pocket to protect their privacy. This means insurance companies will not pick up much of the new cost hike for birth control pills.
The popularity of oral contraceptives and their hormonal patch spin-offs is not new. These are the two most effective methods of birth control, second only to sterilization, which — because it is permanent — is not usually an option for young women wishing to have children in the future.
When purchasing such effective contraception was affordable for the average student, curbing unwanted pregnancies was achievable. Now, with birth control costs increasing as much as five-fold, the outlook for holding down the numbers of unintended and unwanted pregnancies is bleak.
But the current birth control roadblock becomes even more unconscionable in the nation’s current anti-choice climate, in which women who may actually become pregnant by mistake are afforded fewer options for dealing with such an event. As the abortion debate heats up amid presidential campaigns, politicians and red state fanatics coalesce to limit women’s reproductive rights. Even the “morning after pill” was withheld unreasonably for years, until very recently.
Already-born children get less federal respect than the “unborn.” This may be because the “unborn” don’t require a line in this nation’s current budget, where maternal and child welfare have been gutted. Uncle Sam will have to face the fact that the already-born eat, get sick, require clothing, education and housing, and that any society is weakened by women who are forced into motherhood and robbed of their dreams.
Not surprising, but disquieting, is the gender gap in public reactions to the campus contraception price-gouging.
Male “experts” reassure us that the new pill costs will not result in a rash of campus pregnancies. The women biologically vulnerable — patients and observers — describe the increased pregnancy risks as high, mighty, and terrifying.
A country where Medicare covers Viagra so that old bucks can remain sexually active long after most women care ought to have the resources to help people in their childbearing years responsibly plan pregnancies.
In W’s world, however, unaffordable birth control pills may become the “weapons of mass destruction” that we couldn’t find, until now.
Related: A black leadership silent on abortion fabrications, Controlling birth, Hey, hey, we're the Monkees, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Elections and Voting, Politics, Health and Fitness,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   FERRARO, A PHOTO, AND A LEGACY  |  March 30, 2011
    Geraldine Ferraro's photograph stands proudly in a silver frame, inscribed to my daughter with the words, "You are my hero."
  •   TWO MURDERS AND AN UNHEEDED CALL  |  December 29, 2010
    When Rhode Islanders mention former Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Fay, they often focus on the scandal that forced him to resign from the bench.
    Angel Taveras may soon be Providence’s first Latino mayor. But his victory in the recent Democratic primary is much more than a triumph of the city’s growing Hispanic population.
    Recently OB-GYN Associates, a respected women's health care practice with offices in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, admitted to Rhode Island Department of Health officials that it had implanted in patients birth control intrauterine devices (IUDs) apparently manufactured in Canada and not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    Low-numbered plates may be Valhalla for Rhode Island’s vainglorious. But they are hard to come by. So for the average driver looking for attention, “vanity” and “special category” plates are the way to go.

 See all articles by: MARY ANN SORRENTINO