This is a guest post by Sam Shore. He graduated this year from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a member of the Illini Secular Student Alliance (ISSA).
Needless to say these federal actions have broad-reaching societal implications. Even from a purely economic standpoint, the United States stands to benefit from providing easier access to birth control. Research suggests that, “every $1 invested in public dollars for contraception saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures that otherwise would have been needed to provide pregnancy-related care (prenatal, labor, delivery and postpartum care) for women’s unintended births, as well as one year of medical care for their infants.” Considering this statistic and the dangerously ballooning costs of healthcare in the United States, it seems perfectly clear that investment in reproductive health should be part of our federal government’s portfolio. Removing barriers — even something as minimal as a $15 copay — could have a significant impact, as suggested by a recent study which highlights that lower-income California women were three times as likely to have a state-funded abortion when receiving recurring three-month supplies of birth control pills, rather than the one-year alternative. In short, broad and easy access to birth control lowers Medicaid expenditures to less than a third of original costs and lowers abortion rates by a third. I guess it’s true that good things come in threes… Or are, at least, three-adjacent.
Of course, these figures cannot fully convey the importance of women’s’ health programs to those who use them. Planned Parenthood’s services extend well beyond basic contraception and abortion; the organization provides comprehensive gynecological care to those in need. Thanks to the aforementioned regulation, “Insurers [will also now] be required to provide contraceptive services, breast-feeding support and supplies, domestic violence screening and counseling, regular ‘well woman’ visits, counseling about HIV and sexually transmitted infections, screening for gestational diabetes, and several other preventive services without charging women any copayments.”
In supporting programs like Planned Parenthood and an enforced no-copay policy for basic women’s health-related services, the federal government will be making an immeasurable difference in the lives of many. That’s why it’s of some comfort (to me at least) that, in the midst of one of the most blatant examples of unreason in our country’s history, we are working to ensure reasonable healthcare for women across the nation.