This blog has been quiet lately since I maintain two other blogs. One is the course blog for my graduate digital history seminar. The other is Women Historians of Medicine, where we are having a lively discussion about suggestions for an exhibit honoring the 50th anniversary of the Pill that Suzanne Junod at the FDA History Office is putting together.
Since I’m an expert on the history of college health, no discussion of the history of the Pill would be complete without mentioning that female students’ access to the Pill was recently weakened by changes in Medicaid pricing rules. Prior to 2005, pharmaceutical companies were able to provide Title X clinics and college health centers with birth control pills at a substantial discount. In 2005, these rules changed, and in 2007 the price of birth control pills for women who came to these clinics skyrocketed, going from $10 to as much as $50 per package. The Feminist Majority Foundation Campus Program worked hard to change this, and in 2009 Congress reversed this and once again made low-cost birth control clinics available to student health centers and clinics for low-income women. Yet some student health centers still don’t offer discounted pills. So, to ensure access, please do the following:
- Go to your Student Health Center and make sure birth control and emergency contraception is offered and its given a discounted price.
- If you can’t access birth control on campus, start a petition, write op-eds in your student newspaper, present resolutions to student government and administration.
- Encourage the Health Center to be on your side.
- Plug into FMF’s Birth Control Access Campaign action kit to disseminate information on campus.
When I lived in California, I used Planned Parenthood for my health check-ups and for access to the Pill. At that time, the state of California had something called a Green Card (not to be mistaken for the immigration card) that lower-income women (including a lot of students) could use for reproductive health expenses. All I had to do was show PP my green card, and they did any necessary exams and gave me a year’s supply of the Pill in exchange for a requested donation of any amount, even if only a penny. I don’t know how the green card project is working out for California now that the state is tanking financially, but if anyone’s home-campus student health center can’t or won’t work with students on this issue, perhaps an enterprising student reporter could investigate what the local governmental programs and options are for low-income students.