It’s not surprising that, post-election season, different policies are being discussed, laws are being debated, and serious changes are occurring in our country. However, it is vital that we continue to pay attention to the legislation being discussed and how the proposed changes will affect us. One of the most controversial topics being discussed is reproductive health, whether or not it should be covered under insurance, and if employers should have the option to say whether or not they will choose to cover things such as birth control based on their religious beliefs.
This issue affects many students here at St. Kate’s because we are a women’s college. Many students here use birth control for a variety of personal reasons, and options range from the commonly used pill, to the patch, IUDs, the NuvaRing, the implant, or the shot. Currently, women can choose whichever choice best fits their needs and their lifestyle.
If birth control were not covered under an individual’s health insurance, they would have to pay astronomical prices out of pocket. According to Planned Parenthood, without health insurance coverage the birth control pill would cost between $160 to $600 on an annual basis. This price is the same for the patch. The IUD would cost between $500 to $1,000 upfront, and the shot would cost between $220 and $460. These prices are far from fitting into the budget of the average college student. Many women have argued that it would be unfair for them to bear the burden of such high prices for healthcare that they consider to be a necessity. This was exclaimed at the various Women’s Marches throughout the country in January, where many women wore “pussy hats” and created signs expressing their right to accessible reproductive health.
On the other side of the debate, some argue that it is against the religious freedoms of employers to force them to cover birth control and reproductive health under their insurance if it goes against their personal beliefs. Some even go as far as to argue that birth control is similar to the “abortion pill” and claim it is immoral for people to use these methods of contraception.
Jordan Lena ’20, English and musical theatre major, weighed in on the controversial subject. She says, “Employers shouldn’t be forced to cover birth control to their employees if it goes against the employer’s religious beliefs because this encroaches on their freedom of religion.” Lena, a devout Catholic, states that while she believes that birth control should only be used for medical purposes such as regulating menstrual cycles, she emphasizes that both sides should be respected and valued. “We should treat everyone with the dignity they deserve.”
No matter where you fall on the side of the debate, this issue affects the students of St. Kate’s. Whether you utilize contraception or not for any purpose, your choice and your beliefs deserve to be respected.