In 2014, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby case declared that employers were allowed to opt-out of providing access to free birth control to their employees for religious reasons.
However, data from a 2011 Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies showed countries in which birth contraceptives, more specifically the pill, were entirely free, those including: China, Philippines, Thailand, Iran, Syria, India, France, German and many more.
With free access to birth control, a study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine showed a lowered rate of unplanned pregnancies, as well as a significantly lowered abortion rate by a range of 62 to 78% when compared to the national rate.
In a separate study done by the University of Michigan, it was also found that when women had access to family planning programs, which include birth control, income rose and their poverty level dropped.
So I pose a question: for a state that claims to be so innovative, developed, and progressive, why is the U.S. not a part of that list?
Birth control and reproductive rights have been a topic of controversy for years within the U.S, but I personally believe birth control pills should be fully subsidized for women.
For example, with the price of the pill and its level of access varying from state to state, women in poverty may not be able to afford it, further disenfranchising women in poverty, who are more likely to have unexpected pregnancies and therefore, continues to keep families in poverty due to lack of resources.
“A lot of the political discussion about family planning is focused on women’s rights to choose, but the large implications of family planning programs for the financial security of children and their parents tend to get ignored,” Martha Bailey, one of the researchers on the University of Michigan study said to University of Michigan News.
Additionally, birth control pills have benefits beyond their use as contraception. For example, they aid acne, bone thinning, cysts in breasts or ovaries, menstrual cramps, lighten periods and so much more.
However, one could argue that birth control goes against some religious ideals due to its indirect promotion of sexual activity and that abstinence-only prevention should be practiced.
While valid in theory, I believe every person has a right to their own body, and the religious opinions of corporations should be kept private. People will inevitably have differing religious beliefs, and one’s personal moral code should not be the sole factor in deciding a woman’s accessibility to the pill from their employer.
Accordingly, it should be acknowledged that birth control is not singularly used for the purposes of pregnancy prevention, and to say otherwise is largely ignorant.
As the U.S. progresses towards a more modern age, we should consider the age-old phrase: “They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights… Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
With around 21.4 million women living in poverty in the U.S, with almost 1 in 4 single mothers making up that number, I think the answer is clear: it would be wrong to keep pricing the pill, as it restricts millions of women of their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.