Students Visit Capitol Hill to Lobby Congress to Restore Affordable Birth Control
Washington, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) hosted college students from across the country on Capitol Hill today to meet with their members of Congress during Affordable Birth Control Week of Action, September 8–12, and discuss the need to restore affordable birth control in these tough economic times.
College students from Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, and North Carolina visited legislative offices, including the offices of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), to discuss the issue of affordable birth control and the impact of increased cost on college campuses nationwide.
“Once again college students are returning to campus to find that the cost of birth control remains up to five times more expensive than it was a short time ago,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “With the cost of tuition, books, and gas on the rise, it’s time for the Bush administration to stop playing politics with women’s health and pocketbooks and restore access to affordable birth control for our nation’s college students and low-income women.”
For more than 20 years, Congress has provided incentives for pharmaceutical companies to offer college health clinics and safety-net providers birth control at low prices in order to ensure that college students and low-income women could afford contraception.
But college women recently returned to campus for another semester only to discover that the birth control that previously cost $5–$10 for a monthly supply now costs them $40–$50, a price many cannot afford.
Under a provision included in the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), as of January 1, 2007, college and university health centers and hundreds of safety-net providers were unintentionally cut off from accessing low-cost birth control. The result has been an increase in the average price of birth control on college campuses, often as much as 10 times the previous cost. Skyrocketing prices are making it much harder for college students and low-income women to access the family planning services they need to help them prevent unintended pregnancy.
It is estimated that this provision adversely affects an estimated three million college students who take oral contraception, which allows them to prevent unintended pregnancies and plan for their education, career, and family. Hundreds of thousands of low-income women also are affected by the rising cost of birth control, which they receive through safety-net providers.
“Working to reduce the staggering number of unintended pregnancies in our nation should be a goal we all embrace,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “This is a long overdue, commonsense solution to a purely technical error that would not cost the federal government a dime.”
Efforts to resolve this matter through regulatory means were blocked by the Bush administration. Earlier this year, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation by an overwhelming margin that would have restored access to birth control, but the effort was stymied by lack of White House support.
Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have introduced legislation, the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, that would restore affordable birth control at college health clinics and safety-net providers and increase access to affordable birth control. This legislation, introduced by Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), would not cost taxpayers a single dime and has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
Planned Parenthood has worked to eliminate the crisis and restore affordable birth control since the issue was identified, partnering with Congress to fix the issue legislatively, and working with Planned Parenthood affiliates to organize grassroots support.
In addition to lobbying on Capitol Hill, Planned Parenthood affiliates and campus Vox® chapters are sponsoring grassroots events and contacting elected officials this week to raise awareness about the issue of affordable birth control nationwide. A sample of events occurring across the country include a back-to-school fair at Western Michigan University, a sex ed and birth control health fair at Arizona State University, and a canvass of residence halls in Southwestern Iowa.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
September 09, 2008