Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, June 22, 2017

AU, start supplying contraception for your student body

Sophomore Steph Black argues for supplying free contraception through the Student Health Center

AU, start supplying contraception for your student body

Now that Congress has fully launched an attack on healthcare, it is more important than ever for AU to provide free contraception to students directly to students from the Student Health Center. Our country is facing a multitude of impending health care crises that will have  astronomical impacts on those who need health care the most, and with Congress’s inability to prevent or work through them, the Student Health Center must protect the health of its students.

Having autonomy over one’s own sexuality and sexual health is crucial for college-aged women. This includes the ability to have safe, informed, consensual sex. Access to the pill is key. According to research done by Planned Parenthood, being able to use the pill before age 21 has been found to be the most influential factor in enabling women already in college to stay in college.

Not only does the pill have a 99.7 percent success rate of preventing unplanned pregnancy when taken correctly, but has a slew of other uses as well: treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, amenorrhea, menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome, primary ovarian insufficiency, heavy bleeding and acne, to name only a few. The pill can even lower the chances of getting some cancers. This goes far beyond what simple condoms are able to do, though using similar barrier methods is important for other reasons as well.

The Student Health Center is currently able to write prescriptions for birth control for those who request it. In the U.S., 62 percent of women use some form of contraception, and 28 percent of those women use the pill. As a necessary and routine form of birth control, the pill should be readily available for students here who need it.

And with the healthcare system on the brink of collapse with no solution or replacement in sight, giving students access to this crucial form of contraception is a must. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has been outspoken in his dismissal of birth control as a necessary form of health care. In an interview back in 2012, he said, “Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one… The fact of the matter is this is a trampling on religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.”

But women have been left behind, and many more women will be if health care collapses. Right now, birth control pills are required to be covered by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and are generally either free of cost or have a minimal co-pay. But with the uncertainty of the direction of health care at the moment, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen to this level of accessibility.

To address Price’s earlier remarks about freedom of religion, I would like to look specifically at the tenant of some religions in this country. According to Catholics for Choice, “75 percent of U.S. Catholics believe that the church should allow contraception and fully 97 percent of sexually active Catholic women say they have used a contraceptive method banned by the hierarchy.”

And The United Methodist Church, the religious affiliation of AU, states its position on contraception is as follows: “The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.” It is important to understand here that no one is forcing anyone on the pill. But those who are in need of it, religious or not, should have access to it.

At the end of the day, contraception is health care- basic health care that should be provided, free of cost, to AU students. There is already a $20 charge for simply walking in the door to the health center, and asking students to pay additional money for this crucial form of health care is unthinkable. With tuition already being increased by 4 percent, many students are at their financial limits as it is. And no student should have to choose between health care and their education.

Students should not have to jump through hoops, waste valuable time, and run through money they shouldn’t have to spend in order to obtain the medical care they need. Having birth control provided on campus to the students who need it is a must.

Stephanie Black is the Director of Communications for Students to End Abortion Stigma at AU and a sophomore studying Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Communication Studies.