On Friday the Trump Administration announced two interim final rules that will allow employers to deny women insurance-covered contraception should they have a religious or moral objection to doing so.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, required employers to offer health insurance that covered all FDA-approved contraception, unless they qualified for exemption, enabling more than 55 million women to have access to free birth control. Under the new administration, employers can cite religious or moral objection as a reason to not provide free contraceptives, and hundreds of thousands of women may lose access to contraceptives if they are unable to finance a co-pay.
What does this mean for students?
The Good News
The good news is that this policy may have very little effect on students of the UA. Lori Piper, Campus Health and Wellness Program Coordinator, Senior stated that students who are covered by the school health insurance receive completely free generic contraceptives.
Fortunately, if a student is not covered by the school health plan, Planned Parenthood accepts most health insurance plans, and if one does not have health insurance, or if her insurance is not accepted by the clinic, Planned Parenthood will try to create a payment plan based on one’s income.
Additionally, there are many clubs and organizations that will provide assistance to students. Such an organization is the Women’s Recourse Center, which has a Feminist Pharmacy that provides free condoms, tampons, pads, pregnancy tests, and more.
The Not-So-Good News
The rollback of the Obama-era contraceptive mandate may have dire consequences. Catherine Hilbert, a film and television student at the University of Arizona and the co-director of Feminists Organized to Resist, Create, and Empower (FORCE) says the new policy is “the fucking worst, man.” Adding that, “It’s taking us back to a time where women were oppressed and endangered.”
“Most students don’t have jobs with health care,” said Hilbert, “but it sets a precedent that birth control shouldn’t be a right for women”
Women are at risk of being forced to pay for the religious beliefs of their boss’, despite the fact that contraceptives are used for a variety of other reasons, such as cycle control, hormone balance, and acne reduction.
Students who rely on their parents’ insurance plans for access to birth control may lose their access. Sydney Modder, an English graduate student is an example of someone who uses birth control for reasons other than pregnancy preventions, as she has been using contraceptives since she was 11 years old.
“Before the pill, I missed a lot of school and was barely functional during my menstrual cycle, which was erratic enough every month” said Modder. “I was able to get birth control through my parent’s insurance plan, which drastically changed my life. I was finally able to stop missing school and could stop taking so much pain medication, my cycle was manageable and I could function normally, finally.”
Modder has been on the pill for almost seven years and cannot imagine her life without it.
The rollback of the ACA Mandate may have a large affect nationally, but students of the UA are less likely to feel a harsh aftermath thanks to the recources provided both on campus and off.
The Women’s Resource Center can be located on the fourth floor of the Student Union Memorial Center, the Campus Health Service can be located at 1224 E Lowell St, Tucson next to the Highland Bowl, and Planned Parenthood can be found at 2255 N Wyatt Dr, Tucson, AZ 85712