Birth Control Prices and the 08 Election

Editor's Note: With this post, we introduce you to "Youth Voices," our new collaboration with Choice USA, an organization that trains and mobilizes the next generation of reproductive choice activists. Youth Voices will feature the writing of youth activists working with Choice USA around the country.

At the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, there's a lot of sex, but not a whole lot of talk about it. We have abstinence-only education in our religious-conservative state which has generated a general unwillingness to talk about the mattress rodeo. So when our birth control prices suddenly jumped in cost on campus (the NuvaRing, a kind of birth control I've bought from our health center before went from $22 to $48, pricing it out of my reach), I wasn't terribly surprised not to hear anything about it. There was an article in our campus newspaper, The Crimson White, and that was more or less it.

Our campus' new Choice USA chapter, Choice Alabama, is trying to change that. Lately we've been giving out condoms and dental dams and getting people to sign Choice USA's petition to support the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, a bill introduced in the House by Representative Crowley (NY-D) and in the Senate by Senator Obama (IL-D) and McCaskill (MO-D) with bipartisan support. In case you're not up to speed on your reproductive justice news, the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act is legislation which aims to restore the federal incentives for pharmaceutical companies to offer lower-priced hormonal birth control to college and low-income clinics which were cut through the Deficit Reduction Act. Identical pieces of legislation are in the House and Senate right now, and they need your support!

Through my work on campus, I've noticed that many students don't know about birth control, much less the issues surrounding it. One student walked up to our table and when asked to sign the petition said, "I don't really know about this whole birth control thing. Can you tell me how it works?" So we explained how birth control prevents pregnancy and can even be used to treat conditions such as endometriosis. Once he knew the facts about birth control and the PTAA Act, he was more than happy to sign the petition and get involved.

Students are often tagged as apathetic, but many of us do try to be as politically aware as we can, even if through non-traditional means. Voter turnout among the 18-29 crowd is up for the second major election in a row, and with technology making it easier than ever for young people to get politically involved, I see that rate increasing. Our support can make or break a campaign, so it's very important that candidates pay attention to what we care about. Reproductive rights will definitely play a big role in who I'll support in this election, but which candidates are actually going to stand up for our rights and access to hormonal birth control and emergency contraception?

That's a tricky question. While Senators Clinton and Obama and the rest of the Democratic candidates support the availability of EC and federal funding for birth control (with the exception of Mike Gravel, who isn't so sure about the federal funding part), the GOP is a little different. Mitt Romney opposes EC, he is all for federal funding for birth control. Mike Huckabee doesn't want you to be able to get EC or learn about contraception in school. John McCain and Ron Paul don't want taxpayer money funding either (or just about anything, in Congressman Paul's case) and on top of that, Paul is morally opposed to emergency contraception and doesn't want the federal government making rulings on anything related to reproductive rights.

It's a complicated battleground to navigate because some of the Democratic candidates aren't really as reproductive rights friendly as they'd like us to believe, and a few of the Republicans are more so than we'd expect. It's a careful balancing act, and my vote certainly isn't cast yet.

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  • invalid-0

    God Bless Ron Paul!

  • invalid-0

    Leave it to the states, its the only constitutional solution. Not to mention the more complicated the issue, the more local the decisions should be made.

    Ron Paul is the only doctor running (he is an OB/GYN) and the only candidate that truly gets it.

  • invalid-0

    Nothing is free. If the government is paying for something, that means the American people are. And should other people have to pay for your birth control? Would you take a dollar each out of the wallets of 48 of your friends to pay for this? I’m guessing you wouldn’t. You need to think these things through, and you’ll find that entitlements are a lot like theft.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t want to pay for your birth control. I’m voting for Ron Paul. Stop the war!

  • invalid-0

    All these Obamas and Clintons are going to make America Bankrupt! They just think increasing more entitlement programs and painting a lovely picture for everyone is awesome. Why can’t these ppl just close their legs and help the economy…instead of making others pay for their “deeds”!!!

  • invalid-0

    Ron Paul is opposed to restrictions on EC. The federal government shouldn’t be involved in this. Maybe we need to look to the greedy drug companies for these high prices and let the free market drive down the prices. It would certainly be nice if BC prices were lower. It would also be nice if prices of transplants, chemo, and hospitals stays were lower as well.

  • harry834

    Just wanted to clarify, because these Republican candidates are a little harder to peg down on specific issues. Except for Huckabee who unambiguously supportive of mandatory celibacy.

  • harry834

    the millions of federal tax dollars thrown at telling people not to have sex? — abstinence-only education. Seems the general public would more likely use birth control.

    Since 95% of people have sex before marriage – bankers, gardners, cab drivers, credit advisers, plumbers, anti-gay congressman, pharmacists, landlords, bakers, CEOs, etc, etc – are you going to tell this virtual entirety of the population to accept celibacy?

    Also want to point that having sex before marriage isn't the same as having sex every hour, since the pre-marital years will last a long time for us, and that's good because we shouldn't rush into marriage. Also, married couples will especially need contraception to control the spacing of births. Or are you going to demand celibacy from them too? Jees-Loueeze! Even a wedding ring isn't enough!

    Maybe its time we accept that sex is an intrinsic part of the human nature, even though you don't need it like food and water. That would put it in other categories of human need: the need to walk outside in the sun, the need to rest for a few minutes, the need for things other than just food and water in this thing we call a human life.


  • invalid-0

    If you want to have sex, budget more money for contraceptives. I don’t want to pay for your contraceptives as I wouldn’t want you to pay for mine.

    I’ll vote for Ron Paul.

    “If you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em!” <— My Quote

  • invalid-0

    your contraceptives are readily available over the counter, mr. man.

    ours come with doctor’s prescriptions so it’s more expensive. unless you think women should just play reproductive roulette with our fertility, contraception is a basic health necessity. so where’s the money going to come from to make it accessible to the half of the population who have a uterus?

    or do you think that only wealthy people should be able to control their fertility?

    why not say something a little bit more productive instead of repeating laissez faire nonsense? how about advocating for widespread, affordable access to all methods of birth control or even making the most basic forms of female contraception (like EC) readily available to women and girls over the counter?

  • invalid-0

    that a serious discussion of the healthcare crisis facing young people and the dearth of any innovative thinking when it comes to reproductive health policy gets hijacked by a bunch of a$$hats.

  • invalid-0

    Unless you are allergic to latex, condoms are a much better choice than the hormone based solutions, and condoms protect you from STDs. Hormones can cause serious side effects including major blood clots. Very few doctors even bother to explain the various drug interactions and dangers of using these methods. As a child, I sat in a hospital room praying my mother wouldn’t die due to her birth control pills.

    I take the pill for medical reasons and don’t mind paying the price, and I make sure to get regular blood tests. When I was fresh out of college making 20K/year my doctor was kind enough to give me samples her drug rep left. Talk to your doctor, there are many choices for the pill, some are very cheap.

    The American people should not be paying for your lifestyle. We also should not be paying for abstinence programs. You are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; nothing more. Read the Constitution and the Federalist Papers; then if you aren’t happy go complain to your state legislature. As this would be their purview, not the Feds.

  • harry834

    never comes without the help of infrastructure outside the individual. Our roads, our internet, libraries, fire and police, social security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, welfare, and assistance for emerging small businesses all come because of the commonwealth we all contribute too — better known as the t-word: taxes.

    Women like yourself could afford to buy pills. Other women cannot.

    I am appreciative of your consistency. You oppose abstinence programs as well as everything else. Fair enough, for now.

    The infrastructure we all pay for is something many of us, who have more wealth, will not need. But others of less wealth will.

    Since you buy birth control and condoms, clearly you understand the need you have for them. Can't you see how others of less wealth would have the same need as you?

  • invalid-0

    about your argument. You don't want to pay for birth control and so therefore you shouldn't have to? Is that how our government works? There are many childless folks in our country who don't want to pay for public education for our young people? Do you think they should be able to "opt out"? And tell me how will families who cannot afford contraception without financial assistance assert control over how many children they do or don't have or when they have them? They should just stop having sex? Why is reproductive and sexual health care considered an "extra" – especially when we're discussing women's healthcare? Why not go the extra step? If you don't want tax dollars to go for contraception then why should it go to help a pregnant low-income woman have her baby in a hospital? Or for her to access the prenatal care she needs? After all, it's her "fault" she got pregnant, right? It's her "fault" she doesn't have a lot of money, right? Our "democracy" is built on ensuring that those with money can do whatever they please while those without need to check with people like you who are the final arbiters?

    The American College for Ob/Gyns (ACOG) has a great deal of information on the grave health consequences for uninsured women especially when it comes to reproductive and sexual health care. I'm not sure if you know this but there are many women in this country who are on birth control for reasons other than contraceptive – to regulate their menstrual cycle, for one. There are thousands of others who are in abusive relationships where consenting to having sex is not an option – in these cases being on birth control without relying on the man to use a condom is essential.

    Finally, I assume you don't use any tax-payer funded services? Federal roads? College loans? Federal programs for home loans?

    Also, as far as Ron Paul goes, there are many physicians who are in complete disagreement with his positions on the legality of abortion:


    In addition, if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned and the legality of abortion left to the states to decide, we would see massive inter-state travel from states where abortion was completely illegal. Once again, those women with the financial means to do so would be able to travel anywhere to access an abortion. It would be the low-income women who would suffer the consequences – and illegal abortion brings with it dire consequences.


  • invalid-0

    you ron paul-ites are really getting on my nerves. not because of who you’re voting for but because you don’t understand what the blogger was writing about. please do more research before you start talking about how the government shouldn’t pay for birth control. what the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act is calling for is to restore what has already been in place for years – pharmaceutical companies providing birth control to college clinics and community family planning clinics at a discounted rate. where in there did you hear government funded? the only thing (in this case) that i want the gov’t to do is to restore things as they were which would result in a no-cost solution. now go somewhere else to yell and scream about taxes and a “no shot in hell” candidate!