Birth-control affordability campaign comes to UK

With circular postcards shaped like birth-control dispensers, Planned Parenthood of Kentucky hopes to get college students involved in its efforts to combat the rising cost of oral contraceptives.

This week, Planned Parenthood centers across the nation will be setting up tables on college campuses to raise awareness about the importance of birth control and to petition for a fix to the increase in the cost of birth control in university health centers, said Shirley Jones, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kentucky.

“We want to make students aware that they have a voice with concern to the increase in the cost of birth

control,” Jones said. “We want them to share that concern.”

The nationwide campaign is an effort to show Congress support for a bill that would restore affordable prices for birth control to colleges and universities, Jones said.

“Unfortunately, Congress passed a bill which unintentionally prevents us from providing low-cost birth control,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We are working really hard to meet the expanding need for affordable birth control.”

UK is among nearly 1,370 universities that have seen an increase in the cost of birth control since Congress passed a deficit-reduction bill in 2005.

The bill concentrated on Medicaid, a federal insurance program for the poor. Previously, companies did not have to pay more to Medicaid to give discounts to colleges, but the 2005 bill did not include colleges in the exception list. As a result, drug manufacturers have to pay more if they continue to give discounts to college health providers.

Before the deficit bill, the cost of birth control ranged from $5 to $10 per month, but it now costs between $40 and $50 each month and has been continually increasing since 2005, Jones said.

Alecia Fields, a women’s studies sophomore, said campuses are the last place that birth control needs to be expensive.

“I know the Nueva Ring (birth-control method) is now $40 a month,” Fields said. “That’s over a dollar a day, which is a lot of money to spend every month for a student.

When the price of contraceptives is so high, many students will now opt to just not buy it, Richards said.

“I know that when you’re in college, that 50 bucks a month could be all the money you have to eat on and buy gas too,” Richards said. “We don’t want anyone to go off of birth control just because they can’t afford it.”

The campaign will have tables set up in the Student Center today and in the White Hall Classroom Building all day Wednesday and Thursday. The organization’s goal is to have 2,000 signed postcards to deliver to Congress, Jones said.