Birth control deserves a big discount

Though political pundit and radio jockey Rush Limbaugh is known for being controversial, his comments made toward Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke probably made even his most ardent supporters cringe.

Christina Ellis | Summer Trojan

When Fluke wanted to speak at a Congressional hearing on contraception, Limbaugh decided to take the opportunity to call the young woman “a slut,” “a prostitute,” and continued to say that “She was not allowed to testify [at the hearing] because it was not about women at Georgetown who have so much sex they can’t afford birth control.”

Even though it probably goes without saying, Limbaugh’s comments were despicable and should make you question the state of his sanity. His words, however, managed to shed a light on a very important issue discussed in the new health care reform law: Birth control.

By the end of this week, a decision will be made on President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care act, which will affect every American citizen. Under the act, millions of those not yet insured would have the opportunity to join the ranks of the covered.

No longer would hospital visits cost astronomical amounts, and perhaps that lower-middle-class child diagnosed with cancer could finally afford the treatment he or she deserves.

And crucially, the official OK from the Supreme Court would also give millions of women the opportunity to receive their birth control for free.

Some, like Limbaugh, see this part of the bill as detrimental and perverted. Why should we be paying for our young women to be having casual sex? Don’t free contraceptives now give our teenage daughters a reason to get under the sheets?

The answer, of course, is no. Though free birth control seems like the apocalypse to some, to others it’s the promise of calm in an economic storm.

Few women are lucky enough to have their contraceptives covered by their insurance provider. If they aren’t covered — and most aren’t — each monthly pack of birth control can cost a woman around $75. Multiplied by 12, that’s $900 a year.

If Obama’s health care reform act passes with this contraceptive measure intact, these women will get a much-needed break. It’ll give them a little extra money to put food on the table or to save for their college education while offering them the safety and benefits of birth control.

And though some want to sweep the idea of teenage sex under the rug, it’s harmful to ignore the ever-growing presence of sex around young women. Yes, abstinence should continue to be taught as the No. 1 effective way to prevent STDs and pregnancy. But teenage girls need to be taught options besides having a condom on hand when it comes to keeping yourself safe.

It’s easy to get outraged at the thought of young people having promiscuous sex. But focusing on that also ignores the fact that birth control often helps to alleviate menstrual pain, severe acne and even mood swings as a result of hormone deficiencies. The key is to acknowledge that birth control does more than simply allow casual sex.

What women need is a choice, a choice in a world where our voices are often quieter than they should be.

And for those who think that free birth control will corrupt the minds of young Americans: Fear not. Birth control does not cause a sudden craze of hypersexualized women, contrary to what some might assume.

What women really want is the chance to make their own choices about their bodies, without having to pay an arm and a leg.


Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in critical film studies and lifestyle editor for the Summer Trojan.

6 replies
  1. Fight On
    Fight On says:

    There are so many flaws with this article that I don’t even know where to begin. Bear with me.
    1. You consistently emphasize the idea of “free” health care. It’s about as “free” as public education. Addiitionally you blatantly neglect a cost-benefit analysis….when health care is “free,” the quality is not good. Britain currently has “free” health care. I won’t bore you with the details here, but long story short, he died of cancer that could have been easily prevented had he had the proper care – care that would have been ridiculously easy for him to procure had he been in America.
    2. You go on and on abuot the woman’s “choice.” I am a woman. I’m not interested in having sex at this point in my life. I am also not interested in having someone else pay for birth control for me when i do have sex. Where is MY “choice” in whether or not I pay for somebody else’s? The comment about being able to put more food on the table is laughable. OK, so they’ll have more money because it comes out of MY pocket? It seems as though you think that if someone was truly struggling to feed their family, it would be irresponsible of OTHERS not to provide birth control rather than it being irresponsible of the WOMAN to a) budget it better b) use NFP c) this one is a shocker…abstain! *gasp*.
    3. There are many other things I would like to point out here, but for the sake of not writing a novel in this comment box there is only one more very important issue I would like to address:

    You constantly bring up all the “positives” of birth control…excuse me, but what about the negatives? As is typical of adamant proponents of birth control, you completely fail to mention the increased potentaility of breast cancer and infertility when on the pill.In addition, the chemicals in some forms of birth control are the SAME bone-degenerative chemicals given to prisoners on death row (however, these are mainly shots). The point is, this is yet another example of an ignorant commentary on how great birth control really is when all of detrimental aspects are, as you would say, “swept under the rug.”

    I know this must come across as rather rude. That is not my intent.I merely become excessively frustrated when someone – especially a now-upperclassman at a top-tier school – makes the repetitive and flawed points in a publication that is read by many and essentially represents the school.

    And if you read this entire thing, you deserve a gold star.

  2. Trojan
    Trojan says:

    As a supporter of women’s health and rights, I appreciated this op/ed. I was disappointed by all these comments’ failure to see the author’s positive intentions.

  3. Santo Raphael
    Santo Raphael says:

    YOU SAY….”What women really want is the chance to make their own choices about their bodies, without having to pay an arm and a leg.” WHAT ABOUT YOUR UNBORN BABIES’ CHOICE?. HE/SHE HAS NONE. WHAT IF YOUR MOM THOUGHT THE SAME WAY YOU DO NOW?

    LIVING FOR SELF….No Sacrifices…only ME, ME, ME.
    See what that gets you. Both here on earth, & afterwards.

  4. Rich
    Rich says:

    Stupid article. No one should be forced to pay for anyone else’s sex life. Don’t give me that crap about helping alleviate mood swings, cramps, etc….that’s not what the spoiled idiot at Georgetown was griping about. She was very clear she wants the pills for sex. What have we become? There is no shame anymore. NOW we are actually listening to a student at an elite law school who wants free birth control. And this article is in agreement. We have become so weak and reliant. Stupid and lazy is what we are becoming.

  5. Not in college
    Not in college says:

    There are alternatives to using BC pills and that is the condom, vaginal cremes, douche and others. Most healthcare plans cover the pills, but it is not a requirement for healthcare plans to cover them. It is a benefit that the company negotiates when they design the plan that they are going to provide to their employees.

    If a company doesn’t feel that BC pill coverage is appropriate, then why does the government think they need to tell us what we can and cannot have in our healthcare plans? Americans already get government funded abortion coverage, so where do you draw the line as to where your moral convictions interfere with mine?

    Limbaugh’s statement was classless, but his point is well taken. Why should the public , through increased taxes and a potential healthcare mandate be responsible for your birth control requirements. That’s a personal decision and not one the government should be involved in.

  6. usc alum
    usc alum says:

    nice! free birth control hopefully means lower birth rate among the lower class who cannot even afford to have a kid, let alone 5!

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