Duke It Out: Free Birth Control?

[It’s pretty obvious that the average CollegeCandy reader has some very strong opinions. Opinions that she likes to share with everyone on the site. We love a strong woman (unless she happens to be charging at us with her fists raised), so we thought we’d give her a real forum to discuss her thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Every Friday I’ll be featuring a hot topic (like vampires! ) and leaving it up to you, the readers, to duke it out. So, read it and get your debate on in the comments section below!]

Once a month, I walk up to the pharmacy, pick up my prescription, and the woman behind the counter inquires warningly if I realize that my generic birth control pills cost $50. I tell her yes, pay my “don’t want to have a baby” money, and try not to gouge holes in the countertop with my fingers. Every single month. That’s just the way it goes, for me and plenty of other women out there… but maybe not for long.

Birth control is one of many things on a list up for consideration to be included as required free preventative care on overhauled healthcare plans. If BC makes the cut, it could eliminate the extra costs to prevent pregnancy for women all over the country – but should it be included?

The big arguments in favor of including birth control in preventative care center around the “preventative” aspect. The ability to plan pregnancies leads to better health for both mother and child – mothers who intentionally get pregnant get better prenatal care and avoid the physical strain that can occur from having pregnancies too close together. Since cost is one of the main reasons that some women, especially young, surviving-on-ramen-noodles-to-pay-off-my-student-loans ones like us, avoid getting medical contraception, eliminating that cost seems like an obvious way to help control the over 3 million unplanned pregnancies that happen in the US alone every year. There’s also speculation that including birth control would encourage women to try long-term contraceptives like IUDs, which are cheaper and more effective in the long run, but have high up-front costs.

Also, from a purely monetary standpoint, the cost of providing birth control is significantly lower for healthcare providers than the cost of prenatal care, medical expenses and maternity leave (whether from school or work, two major providers of healthcare plans). Considering that even a woman who wants several children will only spend a handful of years actively trying to get or being pregnant, while she’ll spend another two or three decades trying to avoid it, it seems like the most logical thing in the world to include this in healthcare plans.

Of course, there are arguments against including birth control under preventative care. In a move that shocked absolutely no one, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the idea saying that fertility is not an affliction that needs to be prevented. There is, then, that sticky question of how much the government should be involved in reproduction, as well as some concerns that providing easy access to birth control might unintentionally increase the spread of STDs since some people might stop using condoms without the spectre of pregnancy looming over them.

Honestly, as a birth control user myself, I know where I come down on this one, but I have to wonder if my bias is blinding me to other sides of the issue. What do you say, ladies? Should birth control be covered under healthcare plans? Would it really make things better? Or is the cost of birth control just one of the little factors you have to suck it up and deal with when you choose to be sexually active?

Duke it out!

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