College Students Speak Out Against the Rising Cost of Birth Control

University of North Dakota student Katie Ryan says she had to cut back on groceries as well as social activities in order to afford the higher-priced pills.

Some Fear Spike in Unwanted Pregnancies

According to recent data compiled by The American College Health Association, nearly 35 percent of college students reported that they or a partner used oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy the last time they had sex.

Birth-control advocates worry the price increase could put contraceptives out of reach of some women and lead to unwanted pregnancy.

The price increase is forcing some college students to make tough choices.

University of Nevada senior None Wainwright says the price increase has "really taken a toll."

She was able to get two more months' worth of discounted contraceptives because her pharmacy had stockpiled the cheaper birth control, but when that runs out, she's not sure what she'll do.

"I'm debating what my next move will be," Wainwright said.

What About Abstinence?

But not everyone thinks providing discounted birth control to college women is a good idea.

Valerie Huber, the executive director of The National Abstinence Education Association, thinks that colleges are too focused on dispensing birth control and are not offering enough information about the risks associated with sexual activity.

"Birth control offers absolutely no protection at all against STDs," Huber said. "Any campus that offers birth-control pills should put a higher emphasis on the primary health of their students. … Just dispensing birth control as an answer to college age sexual activity, is doing a disservice to the health of those students."

Ruben Obregon, president of the advocacy group No Room for Contraception, doesn't believe that college students should be offered discounted birth control at all.

"Considering that many students have the funds to purchase alcohol and music for their iPods, why should they get discounted prices to begin with, and why should these discounts be restored?" Obregon asked. "If students have to choose between contraception and groceries, then maybe they should reexamine the reasons why they are sexually active to begin with."

Supporters Are Optimistic

"I'm hopeful and reasonably confident that we'll be able to get this done," Stabenow said. She pointed to the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as a positive sign.

Planned Parenthood believes it has the support of 30 senators and 170 congressmen on the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act. Stabenow thinks there might be muted opposition from some Republican senators but ultimately believes the act's passage is an economic necessity.

"It's incredibly unfair to take away the ability for colleges to receive donated medicines or reduced price contraception," Stabenow said. "There is no good reason to want to add costs to college students who are struggling enough to make ends meet."

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