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6 – er, no, 9 – things we missed about birth control

July 3, 2013

So while we’ve been busy with the Women’s Equality Agenda and all the good and bad national news last week (and this week), there’s also been a lot happening on birth control.  Let’s review what’s been happening around birth control this spring & so far this summer:


  1. The CDC named family planning (that means birth control) as one of the top 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
  2. At the end of April, the Obama administration announced that they would allow Plan B One-Step to be sold in pharmacies to women aged 15 and older – not through a change of heart, unfortunately, but because a judge ordered them to listen to medical experts.
  3. In May, Planned Parenthood kicked off the annual observation of teen pregnancy prevention month with a new poll demonstrating strong support from Latinas/os all across the country for education about birth control in schools.
  4. On June 7, we celebrated the 48th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court case that found a right to privacy in the constitution that applied to married couples who wanted to use birth control (and later, single women who wanted birth control, all women wanting abortions, and anyone having sex with someone of the same sex).
  5. Then on June 10, we had a truly major breakthrough – the Obama administration announced that it would drop its court case seeking to limit emergency contraception.  In other words, the federal government would stop trying to limit Plan B based on age!  ANY age, not just the 15-years-and-older piece in #2 above.
  6. And then last week we had three things happen:
    1. The Obama administration announced its final ruling on making birth control affordable for everyone with insurance.  Even people working for religiously-affiliated employers (outside of houses of worship) will get birth control with no co-pays!  The insurance companies – who will save money after all – will just have to cover it themselves.

And on the bad side of things:

  1. A federal appeals court in Colorado announced that Hobby Lobby is allowed to continue its lawsuit against birth control insurance coverage – without paying the fines it is supposed to start paying this week. There are more than 30 lawsuits pending over insurance coverage of birth control (…you know, six years ago when I started this work I would never have thought I’d type that sentence).
  2. The governor of Missouri signed a law that allows pharmacists to refuse to carry certain drugs – while it doesn’t mention emergency contraception, the fear is that the point of the bill is to give pharmacists who don’t believe in contraception the right not to sell it or even keep it in stock.


Better access to birth control should be a no-brainer.  Whether it’s a long-lasting IUD, the pill, the patch, regular condom use (it’s the only one to prevent infections!), or even emergency contraception – good to use up to 3 or 5 days after unprotected sex depending on the brand – birth control is a good thing.  It benefits the young woman finishing college or starting a career.  It benefits the family struggling to make ends meet.  It benefits the woman suffering from endometriosis or ovarian cysts.  It benefits the mothers and fathers who planned their families and are saving up for retirement.  And with no co-pays, the average American woman will save around $600 a year – and with easier access to emergency contraception, any woman who needs to prevent pregnancy in an emergency can just walk into her local pharmacy (even on a weekend!) and purchase Plan B One-Step.

Sure, emergency contraception is not a regular method of birth control.  But it is safe to use for women at any age.  And, if Plan B One Step is taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it is effective at preventing pregnancy.  Unintended pregnancies happen – in the U.S., about half of all pregnancies were not intended.  Better access to all kinds of birth control is needed & should be celebrated.

Birth control: we ARE the 99%.

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