WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) hosted college students from Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota and Pennsylvania on Capitol Hill today as they visited with their elected officials and talked about the skyrocketing cost of birth control and the need to restore affordable birth control.
“These bright, accomplished students are the real stories behind the affordable birth control crisis,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “They’ve traveled from across the country to thank lawmakers for standing up for commonsense legislation to provide affordable health care and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. These remarkable women are the future, and we should be giving them the tools they need to lead a safe, healthy life.”
The four college students shared their experiences about the soaring cost of birth control on their college campuses with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND); Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Senator Bob Casey (D-PA); and Congressman John Dingell (D-MI); as well as the offices of Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). They also thanked the senators and representatives for their support for commonsense legislation to restore affordable birth control, which would help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.
Amber Tamblyn, star of the upcoming movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, and an advocate for affordable birth control, also joined the students in their call to restore affordable birth control.
Nonie Wainwright, a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, is studying journalism and is a Division I swimmer who has led her team to two consecutive conference championships. Wainwright said, “I used to pay $15 a month for birth control, and now I pay $50. As a competitive swimmer, I use birth control to regulate my cycle to balance with competitions. I’m a student athlete on a budget, and this price hike has really hurt my budget.” Many of her fellow students and teammates are in a similar position, being forced to tighten their budgets because of the skyrocketing cost of birth control.
Allyson Hoerauf, a junior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is studying sociology and has a part-time job as a campus tour guide. “The economy in Michigan is in dire straits, so every penny counts. A $30 per month price hike for basic health care is a big deal for me, my parents, and my friends,” said Hourauf.
Erin McKenna, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, is a social work major and has two part-time jobs. “Even with two part-time jobs, birth control at $50 a month is not something I can easily afford. As a fair-skinned Irish girl, I take birth control as a treatment for acne and sun-sensitive skin, and this is burning a big hole in my budget.”
Katie Ryan, a senior at the University of North Dakota, is an elementary education major and a volunteer at the Humane Society. “Last fall, I was shocked to find that my birth control jumped from $10 to $50. To a college student on a budget, it seems like the price of everything is skyrocketing: gas, food, books, and now my prescription birth control,” said Ryan.
Amber Tamblyn said, “Young women face many hurdles in life. To add another financial hurdle makes no sense. We should be making it easier, not harder, for young women to take control of their lives. That’s why I’m speaking out to restore affordable birth control.”
For more than 20 years, drug companies have made it possible for college health clinics and safety-net providers to purchase birth control at low prices in order to pass along the savings to the college students and low-income women who rely on them.
However, last fall, college women returned to campus to discover that the birth control that previously cost them $5–$10 for a monthly supply now cost $40–$50 per pack, making it far more difficult to afford. Due to a provision included in the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), as of January 1, 2007, every college and university health center and hundreds of safety-net providers were unintentionally cut off from accessing low-cost birth control and passing on the low price to college women and low-income women. The result has been an increase in the average price of birth control on college campuses, often to 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. This crisis affects the estimated three million college women who take oral contraception, and hundreds of thousands of low-income women who obtain birth control through safety-net providers.
Both the House and the 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 will not cost the taxpayers a single dime, and would restore the voluntary benefit to college health clinics and safety-net providers.
The Prevention Through Affordable Access Act has drawn bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.
Planned Parenthood has worked to eliminate the affordable birth control crisis since the issue was identified. PPFA has partnered with Congress to fix the issue legislatively, and local Planned Parenthood affiliates as well as more than 220 Planned Parenthood campus chapters in 40 states have organized grassroots events to raise awareness of this issue.
May 14, 2014