Paying for the Pill

When I was in college, I was on the pill, and every month I would dutifully make the trek down to the student health center, where I would get a refill on my prescription.  The refills cost me five dollars; a small price to pay to avoid getting pregnant at a time when a baby would have derailed my entire future. 


When I went to law school, one of the first things I did after moving in was visit the student health center, where I had a checkup and asked for a new prescription for my birth control pills.  But instead of a quick nod and a scribble on an Rx pad, I was told sorry, but birth control wasn’t sanctioned by the University, and it wasn’t available at student health.  You see, I attended Georgetown, which is a Jesuit school.  I knew that Georgetown was a Catholic university when I applied, but I also knew that, like me, a good portion of the student body wasn’t Catholic.  Aside from offering a few classes taught by priests and having crosses in some of the classrooms, it simply never occurred to me that my life would be impacted by the religious leaning of the school in any way.  Perhaps I was naïve, but in any event, I was stunned by the policy. 


Not to be deterred, however, I called my gynecologist back home and got a prescription, which I took down to the Rite Aid on the corner.  The cost for a refill: forty dollars.  It may not sound like a lot of money, but I was paying for school with grants and loans, and forty dollars was about half of my spending money each week.  I simply couldn’t afford it.  However, after mentioning my predicament to a few of my new law school friends, someone told me about Planned Parenthood, and how you could get the pill there for way less than at a pharmacy.  So I went, and for the next three years I continued to get my pills there for about the same as what I’d been paying in college. 


The reason I mention this is because I was reminded of this chapter in life by the recent, twin uproars in the news lately: namely, the Komen Foundation’s announcement that it would stop it’s funding to Planned Parenthood, as well as the Obama administration’s plan that would require Catholic universities and hospitals that receive government funding to pay for employee health care plans offering free contraception.  Now, I get that the Catholic Church feels it shouldn’t be subjected to such a rule.  And frankly, if there are other options for female employees of Catholic institutions to get low-cost birth control, then I don’t think it’s such a big deal.  What disturbs me, however, is that Planned Parenthood, the most visible and prominent of these “other options,” is in real danger.  Last summer, if you recall, Congress was threatening to cut government funding to Planned Parenthood all together, and there is still a powerful contingent in Washington that would like nothing more than to see that happen, as evidenced by Komen’s initial decision to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood - which, as has become fairly clear, was done as a result of political pressure from the right, and not because of the bogus excuse that Komen didn’t want to fund organizations that are under criminal investigation. 



I'm all for men paying for there own Viagra. No objections there. AFAIK there is no government mandate requiring such coverage. Perhaps you'd have a better case requiring employers to provide both or neither to prevent gender discrimination. One key difference is that Viagra treats a man when his body fails to do what it's supposed to, get an erection when aroused. BCP treats a woman's body when it's doing exactly what it's meant to do, get pregnant when sperm meets egg. In the woman's case there isn't an underlying health condition. Either way, I don't really care what insurers provide or don't provide. That's there business to decide what products they want to offer for sale in the marketplace.

I do take offense at the way the left portrays women as brainless nimwits unable to survive in this world without a government body comprised mostly of men providing for them.

Also, this mandate does nothing to provide BCP to teenagers who can't ask their parents or indigent women. It affects the employed. They are still free to seek assistance from Planned Parenthood, a private organization with plenty of donors. You want to help Planned Parenthood and their clients, send them a check.

The left rails against the right imposing their values on them, but the truth of the matter is that the exact opposite is happening. The right isn't shutting down pharmacies or raiding your home and seizing your BCPs from your medicine cabinet. But you think the world would be a better place if your neighbors had to pay for your contraception, so you're using the force of law to seize the products of my labor and force me to live in that world you envision. If it's so wrong of me to impose my values on you, why is it ok for you to do the same to me?



Viagra and similar drugs are covered by many different health insurance policies. But by your reasoning, if some man wants to get a satifying erection badly enough, he should pay for it, not me. Its his sex life - his recreational activity. You and I pay for it in our premiums, but I am not complaining. Why is Viagra covered? Because in most men's minds, sex is a necessity. If you can't have sex, you have a right to be fixed (and not pay out of pocket for it!). Those men are husbands, boyfriends and rapists alike.

Women and society do better when women can protect themselves from getting pregnant.

I am not Catholic, I have nothing against birth control AND I have never used the pill. However, I am happy to pay in my premium for any woman in America who feels that the pill is her best way of preventing an unwanted pregnancy.

All other methods of birth control are much less efficacious or rely on the man (condom). Legal abortion is worse choice for women. Illegal abortions are cruel and harmful. So many unwanted children end up abused by one system or another (and we all know how the Catholic church takes care of marginalized children).

Bottom line: I think we are all better off with women in control of their wombs. Just because a woman is poor, she shouldn't have to be in fear of being pregnant everytime she has sex whether it is with a husband, a boyfriend or a rapist.

When we whittle away at women's rights and protections we head down the path towards women as chattle, barefoot and serially pregnant.


Amen, Risa!


i do recall going to PP for BCP in the early 90s, being without insurance in my early 20s & given the amounts the gave me over the phone @ the time it was more expensive than going to my previous GYN & paying out of pocket @ the pharmacy. its all about choices we make. no one is taking the choices away but there is no wisdom or learning without making the choices; our own choices. thank you, nfceagles to your comments you're so right on.




I am Carholic. And I would hope that since Viagra is covered under insurance plans, that birth control should be as well. Viagra is used for a recreational activity.
As a 30 year old adult who started having sex at a regrettable age of ( ah, dare I say) 16, I would not have told my parents if my life depended on it! But oh, I was a responsible "adult" having sex in my pink bedroom while my mom was at work and I should have been in school!. I COULDN'T get pregnant, I mean after all, I was going to marry my high school sweetheart right out of college and live happily ever after (wonder where he is now?). I couldn't go to my mom because I knew she would KILL my adult self. So I went to Planned Parenthood and started taking the pill. What would have happened if I didn't? Well, I probably would have gotten pregnant because mommy and daddy wouldn't want to PAY for their 16 year old daughter to have sex and, well I would continue to because I was young and STUPID, and well I suppose I would have then ended up on public aid and welfare because as time would have it, I didn't end up staying with my loser high school sweetheart so I would have also been a single mother. You then would have been forced to pay for me and my child on welfare for the next 18 years with your hard earned money. I'm very lucky I had Planned Parenthood in my dumb years and I didn't end up knocked up. I saved the tax payers (which, by the way, I was since working from the age of 15) more money by not getting pregnant. Maybe the real issue here should be making birth control covered under health insurance and making it more affordable so it doesn't have to be funded by the tax payers.


Well said nfceagles!


I'm not Catholic. I have nothing against birth control. I would hope insurance would cover it when used to manage medical problems liek endometriosis. But I don't get why women are entitled to have someone else pay for their choices. If you want to have sex and you don't want to get pregnant and the pill is your preferred method of birth control, than YOU pay for it. If you can't afford it, ask mommy and daddy or whoever is paying for your college costs to pay for it. If YOU don't want to pay for it and YOUR mom and dad don't want to pay for it, what makes you think I want to pay for it??? If you don't have the money to get BC or get pregnant right now, than DON'T have sex. No one is taking away women's right to choose wether they get pregnant.

I really, really like to knit. It relieves stress, makes me very happy, and I'm extremely passionate about it. Should the government force you to subsidize the cost of my needles and yarn???

If people want to continue to fund Planned Parenthood on a voluntary basis, great. but to force other citizens to relinquish some of their hard earned money so that you can have sex makes no sense. On the other hand, if we were talking about providing food for the starving, shelter for the homeless, I'd feel differently. Those are essential to survival. Your sex life, however, is a recreational activity.