Illinois action blog

Monday, October 22, 2007

Valerie's Story

This is our first story for the week. Names will be changed unless stated at the beginning of the story. Please feel free to leave your own.
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I have a long term boyfriend who recently moved 250 miles away to attend another university. Now we only see each other on the weekends. Because of the price increase I'm considering getting off birth control and using spermicide gel. This makes me nervous because it's much less reliable. My boyfriend has a terrible aversion to gels and creams and make-up so it will be very unpleasant for him. I'm sensitive to latex so condoms are too irritating for regular use. I've even considered using the rhythm method even though I know it is the worst option.

We have an opportunity to see each other at most 4 times out of the month, for which I'm now paying $400 instead of $60 dollars a year. He is considering a vasectomy as he is certain he doesn't want children (a lot of cancer and other illnesses run in his family), and the increase in birth control is factoring into his decision. I personally don't want him to have a vasectomy. He offered to look for cheap pills while abroad a few months ago, but he wasn't able to get any. I'm visiting relatives in Europe this winter and will try to stock up over there. I'm looking on the internet too.

This is a terrible situation. My boyfriend and I are madly in love and hope to spend our lives together, it's affecting us both. He said he will help me pay but he already pays for so much and we're both poor students. Birth control pills are so ridiculously cheap to make, it's almost criminal what they're doing. Meanwhile Viagra is still covered by insurance. What sort of message are they sending? This makes women more powerless over their lives, I wouldn't be surprised if there will be a huge spike in STDs and a decrease in women graduating college due to pregnancy.
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According to a study published in 2002 by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, they did find an increase in women's participation in higher education that was a result of the development & increase availability of the pill. Sorry...subscription required, but college students, use your library privileges! :) From the introduction:
The careers of college graduate women and their age at first marriage both changed signicantly in the United States with cohorts born around 1950. Women were 10 percent of first-year law student in 1970 but were 36 percent in 1980. Among the cohort of female college graduates born in 1950, almost 50 percent married before age 23, but fewer than 30 percent did for those born in 1957. We ask whether the birth control pill and the legal environment that enabled young, unmarried women to obtain "the pill" altered women's career plans and their age at first marriage. Our answer is that they did.

I wish the study wasn't scanned so I could quote some of the awesome research they present. Not only do they go through the history of birth control in this country, but also the legal history of unmarried women being able to obtain it. One tibit that I will type out for you (without their citations) is about colleges providing services:
According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), just 12 institutions in 1966 (3.6 percent of those reporting) would prescribe the pill to unmarried students. In 1973, according to an extensive survey of college,s 19 percent would provide family planning services to students regardless of age and marital status. Because larger schools had a higher fraction providing services, about 42 percent of undergraduates would have been able to obtain such services. Thus, although in 1966 few student health services would prescribe the pill to unmarried women, by 1973 more than two-fifths of all undergraduates, regardless of marital status and age, could receive family planning services on campus, and others could obtain them locally without parental consent.
Not only do college-aged women want birth control, it appears that for women, the pill is a mighty and needed tool in our fight for equity in education and eventually in the work place.


technorati tags: birth control, congress, campus, colleges, university, Deficit Reduction Act, Planned Parenthood Aurora, Save Birth Control Now

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