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Free birth control is a medical right

TUES. | 11-16-21 | OPINION

     Marching, rallies, protests and more. Feminism has inspired this generation more than we ever thought it would. The more they grow, the more they learn and the more progressive they become. However, women’s rights have started to deteriorate with new restrictive laws being placed in each state. It’s hard to imagine a place that has everything figured out for them.

     As mentioned by National Public Radio, France has given women the opportunity for free contraceptives up to 25 years of age - initial limit being 18 - starting next year. Many French citizens have rejoiced at this because the price for contraceptives - or birth control - has changed from it being free to costing €145 ($168.59) to €323 ($375.55) a month.

     Not only is this very helpful in aiding women with financial difficulties, but it also decreases the risk of unwanted pregnancies. According to Health Minister Olivier Veran, the reason why the law changed was because not many women had the financial stability to use birth control, so it’s good to see that the French government recognized these needs. 

     I feel that it’s not a bad idea to bring this into the United States (US). In March 2010, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was placed with the intent to make birth control, along with other medical needs, free. However, there are still some places that don’t accept this kind of insurance plan making a patient likely to spend up to $600 a year, and that is not including the amount it costs for doctor visits to get prescriptions. 

     This is not something many people can afford, and due to this, the usage of contraceptives has decreased meaning that unwanted pregnancies have increased. Yet, you still hear people complaining about the increase in abortions. I feel that if there’s a want for more convenient and healthier alternatives for women, then things like the pill should be free. 

(liv) birth control infographic.jpg

Graphic by Liv Carpenter

     According to Diane Duke Williams of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, a study was conducted by the University that proved making contraceptives free for women would be beneficial for them. Ultimately, she pointed out that 50 percent of pregnancies in the US are unplanned. Giving women the same offer as France can be very beneficial, but everything comes with a downside. 

     David Shane of Mic argued that we shouldn’t make contraceptives free because it “doesn’t make economic sense.” He argues that it makes the price more expensive for someone who does need to pay for it and that now, if you do have to pay out-of-pocket, you'll pay probably $9. I feel that he is forgetting about the cost of the doctor visit or longer lasting financial problems that can arise. Sure, upfront you’re paying a small amount, but it’s kind of like a subscription. 

     However, if we’re going to speak on female needs, it’s important to note male protective products as well. If we do decide to make contraceptives free, then condoms should be too. Though they are usually cheaper, it would make sense to have them as equally accessible. Some places already sell this form of protection for free, and this has helped to reduce sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV. To me this makes a lot of sense, and it can be very beneficial financially. 

     There is a huge debate on whether or not free forms of contraceptives and protectives are necessary and beneficial and there are, in fact, pros and cons to this. Still, I think that making birth control free can make things a lot safer, and women can be more financially stable in the process. If we are still not able to make them “free” then we should at least make them cheaper and more easily accessible. 

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