Last week, students at the University of Houston displayed a stack of Ramen Noodles at a visibility event demanding cheaper birth control. The connection: $35 worth of Ramen Noodles could feed someone for a month — or it could purchase one month's supply of birth control. Birth control that had been only $10 a few months ago at the University of Houston health center has now more than tripled in price. And this isn't happening in just Houston. Students all over the country are demanding that Congress fix the birth control pricing problem caused by the Deficit Reduction Act before the legislative session ends in December.
At some schools, students are protesting the increase with petitions and rallies. In Iowa, where at the University of Iowa Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo jumped from $15 to $53 per month, more than 400 college students signed a petition protesting the increase in the cost of birth control. The petition will be delivered to the state's Senators next month. Students from New York University rallied in Washington Square Park while chanting, "Birth control shouldn't break the bank, who in congress do we thank?" and "What do we want? Birth control! How do we want it? Cheap!"
Another way students are making their voices heard is by writing letters to the editors and news stories for their school papers. At Washington University in St. Louis, MO, students wrote, "Birth control is a facet of basic health care and all women should have easy and affordable access to it. If Congress is truly serious about reducing the rate of unintended pregnancies, then fixing this law should be a top priority."
Lastly, and most impressively, students are reaching out to university spokespeople and officials in order to demand Congress' attention and action. A few weeks ago, the University of Montana at Missoula's student government association (ASUM) passed a resolution expressing the association's support for discounted birth control for students and pledged to contact Montana's congressional delegation about the issue. Legislators may be able to ignore students, but I believe university presidents and regents will make elected officials think twice about ignoring this issue.
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The issue, after all, is an easy, no-cost fix. In fact, legislation has already been introduced by the Congress that would restore access to affordable birth control for college and not-for-profit health clinics. The bill is called the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act and already has more than 100 sponsors in the House. To help ensure the passage of the Prevention through Affordable Access Act, check out Lon Newman's action suggestions!