Senator Jim DeMint moved this week to increase birth control prices as
much as 900% for college women. You’d think the Senator, who professes
to be against abortion, would want to make contraception as accessible
as possible for women in college since they’re the demographic with the
highest rate of unintended pregnancy and the highest rate of abortion.
College women typically don’t have much income and are also
disproportionately likely to be uninsured; it’s not the pool of people
you want to force to "splurge" if they want to use protection. "We do
know that high fees act as a barrier to obtaining care. That is
classically understood in campus health services," explained Claudia
Covello, director at the University of California-Berkeley’s health
center, to Time magazine.
DeMint move is just the latest, and we’re talking by minutes, in a
month of repeated attacks against access to contraception. Obama wants
common ground, but the current Republican cabal wants to stomp its feet on
the fringe. So routine now are the attacks on contraception that the
anti-contraception crew will use any excuse, like the aunt who dolls up
the house for every minor holiday. The anti-contraception team dresses
up their attacks on birth control in whatever polemic is being
celebrated that day even if, like that "Kiss Me I’m Irish" shirt worn
by your aunt’s chihuahua, the claim is not true at all.
Prevention First legislation was introduced in the Senate it consisted
of proposals that would improve access to contraception. And yet it was
referred to by contraception opponents as an "abortion bailout."
When the stimulus package included a simple budget-neutral provision to
streamline state billing procedures for contraceptive services, the
Family Research Council called it a "political payoff".
Now, DeMint through an amendment hopes to remove the Affordable Birth
Control Act, which requires no expenditure but simply reinstates
college health centers and other safety net clinics back into the
discounted drug pricing program. The polemic decoration DeMint uses is
that lowering the cost of birth control for college age women is an "earmark" for Planned Parenthood.
problem with birth control prices on college started where all modern
problems begin, with the Bush administration. In 2005, Bush used the Federal Deficit Reduction Act
to exclude college health centers and some safety net health clinics,
including about a quarter of Planned Parenthoods, from discounted drug
programs. And wouldn’t you know it, the most common drug each of these
health centers provide is contraceptives. When birth control prices
starting soaring after the change, in some instances going from $5 to
$50 for a month’s supply, anti-contraception operatives played dumb.
The Bush team claimed they did not intended for the law to remove
college health centers and private birth control clinics from the list
of those eligible for discount drug pricing.
Over that last few years when simple solutions were offered to remedy this "unintentional" act, like asking HHS to work out a simple correction and introducing legislation
to reinstate the health centers into the discount drug program, it was
more than a little suspicious that those pleading innocence were
unwilling to back a remedy. In fact, the amount of effort the
anti-contraception team has put into protecting this "unintentional"
scale back in contraceptive access is telling. It appears some mistakes
are really worth fighting for. In the most recent attempt to stop the
"unintentional" act from being corrected, DeMint is now claiming that
by reestablishing the prices discount for birth control these health
centers will keep the cost-savings for themselves and charge women the
same inflated prices. Maybe he is confusing college health centers with
our banking system. The health centers are not known for predatory
business practices. And if profit were a motive for the not-for profit
Planned Parenthood someone might want to point out to its financial
team that determining the price they charge for birth control based on
a woman’s ability to pay, as the organization does, is not the fastest
route to the top of the capitalist pyramid.