OPINION: The pill needs to be free now

Image displays four colored birth control pill packs.
(Greta Long • The Student Life)

Gender, equality, health care. I know you faithful readers of The Student Life see these topics in our opinions headlines nearly every issue, which is why I’ve been trying to write about refreshing news such as children’s books and music platforms. Alas, I can no longer suppress my political commentary for the sake of a break in your news feed.

Not to mention, my last article didn’t make it to TSL’s print newspaper, so in an effort to get back at the editors, I’m writing to you this week about something they will not be able to deny printing: the cost of birth control, the sexism behind that cost and how President Donald Trump is making everything so much worse. 

When I was in high school, my sister, an intelligent, feisty liberal with superior knowledge of right and wrong, was constantly mad at the high prices of tampons. Her argument was fueled by two causes.

One was my mom’s refusal to buy tampons for her, which made my sister constantly upset by the loss of $7 for cotton. Second was tampons’ absurdly high cost, especially when you consider the fact that our good-for-nothing counterparts, men, don’t have to factor at least $14 into their monthly budgets for cotton bullets.

My sister’s anger at this situation has stayed with me for four years. Maybe because she took me to the pharmacy with her every month to buy tampons, and every single month, I had to listen to her rant about our mother and the patriarchy, two very heated topics. 

But what kept me thinking about it, beyond my sister’s angst, was the application of her frustration to birth control in America.

For the sake of my argument, let’s all pretend we’re heterosexual women having intercourse with gentlemen. Let’s now assume these gentlemen I mention are smart enough to supply a condom every time. A real stretch here — I know, guys — but stick with me.

Even if that is happening, most women are still expected to be, and many want to be, on some form of birth control. The cheapest and most accessible birth control is currently the pill. And still, it’s not really that cheap.

According to the National Women’s Health Network, most birth control pills cost anywhere from $20 to $50 per month. Tack on the minimum of $14 for tampons each month and you’re looking at a hefty portion of women’s monthly salary devoted to vagina maintenance, something we did not ask for in the first place.

These costs are especially sexist because we’re not being paid the same as men to begin with. Not to mention the pink tax, a little known devil that charges women more than men for the same products. These products range from razors to calculators and usually the only difference between the items is that one is pink and the other isn’t.

There’s even an online calculator that lets you enter your birthday and then tells you how much the pink tax has cost you so far. The patriarchy owes me $26,027. Not-so-coincidentally, my birth control pills are pink …

Condoms, the birth control men are supposed to provide, cost less than a dollar each and can be found all over college campuses, and many other public places, for FREE. Value boxes for condoms — at least 36 individual condoms — cost $15.

The birth control industry is patriarchal enough as is. The assumption that women should be the ones to alter their hormones in an attempt to avoid unwanted pregnancy — which takes a much bigger toll on women than men, I might add — while men merely have to carry around a $1 piece of latex or what have you, if that, is so messed up. 

When we’re thinking about all that sexism, the cost difference between birth control methods and the gender pay gap, it becomes disturbingly clear that women are really being screwed over in this country. 

If there was one good nugget of news to glom onto during this horrible time of women’s rights, it’s the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to Big Man #44 (Barack Obama), health care providers are required to provide birth control for free to all patients.

Unfortunately, some health care providers are only willing to provide a select couple of brands that don’t always work for every woman. In addition, according to America’s Health Rankings, over 12 percent of American women remain uninsured. It’s all too obvious that this 12 percent likely consists of women who need free, accessible birth control the most. 

So forget that I even brought the ACA up as a nugget of positivity because Big Idiot #45 (Donald Trump) is doing everything he can to get rid of it. As recently as Feb. 10, Trump announced plans to cut one trillion dollars worth of funding to Medicaid and the ACA.

In addition, the Supreme Court announced Monday that it would be reviewing Obamacare for the third time under Trump, and possibly ending it, later this year in the case California v. Texas. With a case name like that and the Supreme Court we have, it’s hard to see California winning this one.

Even though the World Health Organization recognizes the international right to health care in their constitutions, we are being inhumanely denied our rights as humans and women. If the patriarchal system of making women solely responsible for birth control is going to be upheld, it at least needs to be free and accessible to everyone.

Georgia Scott PZ ’23 is an idiot because ripping on her editors in the second paragraph will certainly not propel her career.

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