Shippensburg University recently made a controversial decision to sell emergency contraception or Plan B from vending machines in their student health center. As a junior at American University, this decision does not seem controversial to me at all but instead a smart step in helping women make healthy decisions about their bodies. Personally, I think that every college campus would benefit from selling Plan B.
Perhaps some of this controversy has risen because people do not understand the purpose of Plan B. Emergency contraception has been equated with the abortion pill, however; they are very different. Forms of emergency contraception are safe and effective forms of birth control used after intercourse. It does not work if the woman is already pregnant. EC prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation, and the fertilization of the egg. Therefore when a woman takes Plan B she is not aborting a fertilized egg, but instead preventing fertilization.
Before interning at the National Women’s Law Center I did not know much or really anything at all about the health care law. Furthermore, I didn’t know that my family was benefitting from it, especially my sister who recently graduated from college.
For the last 6 months, I’ve also been able to observe my sister, Alex’s, transition from college to the real world. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2011, she decided to work in the non-profit sector. She accepted a one-year fellowship in New York City. Alex moved from New Hampshire to New York on a tight budget, and a small wage, specifically less than $35,000 a year.
Between spending $1,000 a month for rent, plus additional bills for groceries, utilities, and taxes, Alex is not exactly living the life of luxury. While her employer offered health insurance, the plan wasn’t affordable on her salary, and would make a significant dent in her earnings. Many young professionals in Alex’s position would simply elect to forego health insurance to save money. I am sure this would have been the case with my sister if it were not for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
After living as a college student in DC for three years, I’d never been to the Capitol. I’ve toured the White House, visited the monuments, seen the Smithsonian museums, but never got a chance to go to Capitol Hill. Now I can say that I have finally crossed it off my list.
This week I had the opportunity to visit one of America’s greatest institutions. However, this great institution could soon be voting on a not-so-great amendment; an amendment that puts my health and the health of others at risk.
I attended a briefing on Capitol Hill presented by NWLC’s own Judy Waxman about the Blunt Amendment that may soon be voted on in the Senate. This amendment would give employers and insurers the option to refuse to cover a health care service that is against their religious or moral beliefs.
Last week, President Obama announced an accommodation to the contraceptive coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act that protects women’s access to this critical preventive health service while accommodating the opposition to the service by religiously-affiliated institutions. The Blunt Amendment is a new tactic to undo this advance for women’s health. However, this amendment goes far beyond overturning contraceptive coverage and would compromise the employees’ or beneficiaries’ health care services.