Those of us in the reproductive rights crowd have been talking about the increase in birth control prices on college campuses for some time, now. The change came about due to new rules passed in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and went into effect a few months ago. Don’t let the name of the act confuse you, though — going back to the old rules and lowering the price of contraception for college students wouldn’t cost tax payers a dime, though it would force the pharmaceutical industry to lose out on a tiny portion of they’re already-monstrous yearly profits.
Lawmakers say that the change was unintentional. Seeing when it was passed and the track record on support for contraception from our government, I don’t quite buy it. But I’m also not even sure how much that matters, anymore. What’s important is fixing the problem.
Finally, the NY Times has published an article on the subject. It’s late, but I’m also thrilled to see the issue getting some press coverage. I do know that Planned Parenthood has recently been hyping the story to the media like mad. The affiliate that I work for has held several media events in the last week and we had a local news team in the building the other day. Thank god someone is finally listening.
A couple of paragraphs in the article, though they didn’t surprise me, did make me laugh (bitterly) out loud:
Not everyone is troubled by the price increases. Some people said they wondered why college students, many of whom manage to afford daily doses of coffee from Starbucks and downloads from iTunes, should have been given such discounted birth control to begin with, and why drug companies should be granted such a captive audience of students. Others said low-priced, easy-to-attain contraception might encourage a false sense of security about sex.
“From our perspective, this does bring to light a public health concern, but for a different reason,” said Kimberly Martinez, the executive director of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, which advocates abstinence from sex until marriage. “These young women are relying on this contraception to protect them. But contraception isn’t 100 percent — for pregnancy or for disease.”
The first point is fun. Sounds kind of familiar, too. In short, unless you’re living on the street, you deserve to pay through the nose for basic health care. If you’re not willing to give up things like, say, food — or even the most basic luxuries, that not everyone can afford but I think we’re all entitled to, like a cup of coffee in the morning — it’s your own fault and you don’t deserve basic health care. Too bad.
Of course, this is also the same crowd that argues that the rich deserve tax breaks because “they’ve earned their money.” Why the rich are entitled to keep their money to buy boats but the poor and middle class aren’t allowed to buy coffee without being called greedy, I’ve never quite understood. Probably has something to do with the fact that I’m a dirty hippie who doesn’t bow down every night and pray to the free market.
But just when you think the fun is over, you realize that the second part is fun, too! You see, if a drug doesn’t work 100% of the time, not only should it not be available at an affordable price, but it’s incredibly dangerous to give to people at all.
And, I mean, it makes sense. Think about it: when people have heart conditions, do we give them medication to help regulate the problem? No! Then the heart patients will just think that they’re cured and start skydiving and eating donuts for every meal! We can’t have that. And do we give insulin to Type 1 diabetics? Of course not, they’d just stop paying attention to their blood sugar if we did. And don’t even get me started on anti-depressants. They don’t always work, and they work differently for different people, so it’s better to just not give the severely depressed any hope at all.
. . . Wait. What was that? That’s not how it works? How odd. In that light, it’s almost as though Ms. Martinez’s argument doesn’t make any sense. I think that I have to go lay down.
Or maybe she has a point after all. Maybe we can’t trust the people who we allow to live on their own, have credit cards, vote, join the military and die in Iraq, and operate motor vehicles (but strangely enough, not have a beer) to have TEH SEX. After all, TEH SEX can be dangerous. Far more dangerous than Iraq. And since bad things can happen from TEH SEX, like pregnancy, STDs, and orgasms, it’s probably best to make sure that those irresponsible young adults don’t have contraception. Because reckless people who we can’t trust to make basic decisions would never have TEH SEX without using contraception, right? Sounds bullet-proof to me!
In any case, some congressional Dems are working on fixing the law (though I’m not convinced that they’re working hard enough). Good luck to them. And if — hopefully when — they succeed, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when it’s put on Bush’s desk. I guess then we’ll find out whether it was an “oversight” after all.