House Republicans are attacking a recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to require new insurance plans to cover birth control with no co-pays.
They are pushing to undermine this preventive care provision by allowing Catholic hospitals and schools to be exempted, even though these organizations employ and serve individuals of different faiths and backgrounds. It would mean millions of workers and their families would lose access to affordable birth control, and so would students at many faith-based universities.
For college students like me who worry about the cost of living and tuition, the HHS decision is huge. For students and young adults, every dollar counts. I am a male and though I don’t take birth control, most of my friends — including my girlfriend — do. I want to plan a family, but only after I have graduated and have a good job.
I believe that using birth control is an individual choice and an individual right. The school a student attends or the employer someone works for should not dictate whether or not someone has access to birth control.
The reality is that women of all faiths — including Muslims, Christians, Jews and yes, even Catholics — use birth control and would benefit from access to birth control with no co-pays. Ninety-nine percent of sexually active women in the U.S. use birth control at some point in their lives, including 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women over age 18. Birth control is an essential part of women’s preventive health care.
It comes down to this: The HHS decision will have a real and positive impact on millions of people struggling to make ends meet. All students should be able to benefit from health care reform — even students at religious institutions.