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One Less Tough Decision: What Birth Control Without Co-Pays Means for College Women

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August 1, 2012

Being pro-choice means trusting women to make their own decisions about their reproductive healthcare. But there are some reproductive healthcare decisions I don’t think women should have to make.

I don’t think a woman should have to decide whether to keep taking a birth control pill that gives her terrible side effects, because it’s the only brand whose copay she can afford. I don’t think a woman should have to decide whether to enroll in a birth control study and rely on a pill that isn’t on the market yet, not because the compensation is great, but because it’s the only way to get contraception for free.

I don’t think a woman who lives with Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder should have to choose whether to suffer every month because the pill that gives her fewer periods has a higher co-pay than she can afford on her part-time salary, and I don’t think a woman should have to decide, when money is tight, whether it’d be smarter to go a week without her birth control or without her thyroid medication.

I know all of these women. We are smart, competent and ambitious. We are balancing school and work, studying to be doctors, lawyers, social workers and writers, and trying to make the most responsible decisions we can about our birth control and our overall health.

College women have a lot of freedoms, and thanks to the feminist movement, one of those is the freedom to choose when we want to have children. But when birth control is difficult to afford on a student budget, we have to make decisions that limit us in other ways – decisions we shouldn’t have to make.

Starting now, with copay-free birth control under the Affordable Care Act, college women don’t have to make those tough decisions anymore. Now that America has joined the industrialized world in recognizing birth control as necessary preventative care – now that we can cross “how do I afford my birth control” off our lists of things to worry about – college women can focus on making the kinds of decisions we want to make, the ones that empower us to choose what we want from our lives.

Tracey Hickey, Follow This Tumblr
University of Pittsburgh, Class of 2013

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