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Birth Control: A Necessity and a Right

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Fordham University

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Birth Control: A Necessity and a Right

The Trump administration and oppressive Catholic doctrine

Callan McCarthy

11.9.17

Read time: 9 minutes.

Birth control! It’s controversial, confusing and utterly essential. It’s something that myself and others with uteruses must understand for the sake of our own sexual health, physical health, and peace of mind. But what about our penis-toting counterparts? What do they think? Well, based on recent legislation, nothing good. This is troublesome, as birth control affects everyone in the country-not just women.

On October 6th, the Trump administration increased the ability of employers and insurers to deny female employees access to birth control if they have compelling moral or religious reasons.

This works against the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which allowed millions of women to receive birth control without co-payments. This could leave hundreds of thousands of women without affordable birth control, which is a serious problem.

Now, this issue is not exclusive to the Trump administration. Although Trump’s brief presidency has been openly hostile and objectively harmful to millions of Americans, restricted access to birth control is not new. After all, birth control wasn’t even cleared by the FDA until 1960. The Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, the landmark case about states’ rights and abortion, in 1973-just 44 years ago.

Why is this still happening in 2017? Why is it so difficult to provide all American citizens with free health care and access to affordable contraceptives?


Here, we run into social stigma and, truthfully, a lack of knowledge. As a country, we don’t have a mandated curriculum for sex education or contraception. Somehow, there is a persistent and very unhealthy view that abstinence-only education is the best option to keep teen pregnancy rates and STIs low. Surprise! It’s not.

We also run into that whole “moral and religious objections” thing. As Fordham students, we attend a University proud of its Catholic, Jesuit history.

If you glance at the Student Handbook, the brief paragraph on “Contraceptives/Birth Control” makes it very clear that, unless you have a preexisting medical condition, Fordham will not be providing you with birth control or contraceptives.

They also retain the right to actively intervene if you try and distribute birth control or contraceptives on University property or at University-sponsored events.

This is not just because Fordham wants to be irritatingly backwards when it comes to issues of sexual health; this is because of Catholic doctrine. Though Fordham is a private institution, they must adhere to Catholic teachings, and that’s a chain of command leading all the way to the Pope. Unfortunately, this means that any effort to try and change their mindset will be a long and hard road, and certainly won’t happen overnight.

What is most concerning, however, is that we as students are denied access to something that’s a tenant of basic health. Not only that, but there’s also a culture of shame surrounding sexual freedom and sexual health. Fordham’s anti-birth control policies require the S.A.G.E.S. (Students for Sex and Gender Equity and Safety Coalition) Coalition to operate somewhat anonymously, in order to protect students who actively resist Fordham’s movement “to solely intellectualize the health and safety of students.”

Courtesy of the S.A.G.E.S. Facebook page

Health and safety is real and tangible, and should never be discussed from a vantage point of condescension or “privilege.” It is, after all, a right. Birth control is not just used for safe sex; it’s also used for physical health. Hormonal acne, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), endometriosis, heavy or severe periods; these are all situations in which a woman could receive relief from pain or problematic symptoms if she’s on birth control. That’s just the pill, too; there are so many other kinds that work towards the same goal.


I personally use Skyla, a T-shaped IUD (intrauterine device) that sits in my uterus and gives off a steady dosage of progestin. This hormone works to keep cervical mucus thick and uterine lining thin, slowing sperm and creating an environment in the uterus that’s too hostile for egg fertilization. It’s designed to stay in the uterus for up to three years, with a 99.1% success rate. Getting the IUD was well worth it. When I had it inserted two years ago, it was covered by my insurance plan--but what if it hadn’t been?


I actually called Aetna, my insurance company, to figure out what the out of pocket cost for Skyla would be if I wasn’t covered. It would cost me $857.64 just for Skyla alone, not including the visit to the gynecologist and insertion itself.

Fordham is an institution that falls under the rollback mentioned earlier, enacted in early October. Female employees at Fordham could be denied coverage of their birth control if Fordham decides to cite compelling moral or religious reasons--the most compelling of which would be mandatory Catholic doctrine.

If I worked at Fordham and they denied me access to affordable birth control, I’d be paying that $857.64 for one Skyla, and would pay more on top of that to visit my gynecologist and have it inserted.

If I needed to have it checked or adjusted, I’d need to return and shell out even more money. Although it wouldn’t be a monthly or a yearly cost, it’s still a large chunk of money to drop on one doctor’s visit.
Courtesy of PerryUndem Gender and Birth Control Access Report

Strangely enough, in a recent survey, 52% of men said they didn’t personally benefit from affordable access to birth control; only 37% of men said they benefited. Are you kidding? Every man who has sex with a woman is directly benefiting from affordable birth control and family planning! Then I thought back to conversations I’ve had with men before about this subject.

Courtesy of PerryUndem Gender and Birth Control Access Report

Most men I’ve spoken to don’t even know what an IUD is. It's frustrating and sad that a lack of education in this country leaves its young people unaware of such important information. There's a disconnect there that needs to be fixed so our male friends, allies and partners can become a more knowledgable part of the conversation.


The nature of treating the female reproductive system is an invasive one. In order to maintain our own health, we need professionals to get in there and take a look. As a result, we’re usually the ones burdened with birth control because we are viewed as the incubators. That needs to change. Men in Congress and men around the country need to realize that affordable access to birth control directly benefits everyone. The cost and most of the burden of facilitating safe sex cannot fall on women alone.

Courtesy of the PerryUndem Gender and Birth Control Access Report

Let's dig in, start conversations and access the information that clears up misconceptions or confusion surrounding birth control. Let's work together to keep women's health in a spot of priority.

After all, how revolutionary is it, really, to provide women with the opportunity to stay healthy--for free? How revolutionary is it to understand that women want to have sex and enjoy it with peace of mind?


Chip away at the social stigma. Harness your fighting spirit. Reclaim your right to regulate your body how you choose.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Rival Fordham staff.