Students rally for affordable birth control

NEW YORK — Dozens of New York University students, elected officials and other advocates rallied in Washington Square Park, Nov. 12, to call for restoring affordable birth control at college health centers and at family planning centers that serve low-income women.

The energetic crowd chanted, “Birth control shouldn’t break the bank” and “What do we want? Birth control! How do we want it? Cheap!”

Neaka Ballog, an NYU student, was dressed like a giant package of birth control pills and chanted with the crowd.

Co-sponsors of the event included NYU Voices for Choice, the National Organization of Women-NYU, Planned Parenthood NYC, and NYU Law Students for Reproductive Justice.

For several decades federal law has provided health clinics the ability to buy birth control at a greatly discounted rate to keep birth control accessible to low-income women.

In 2006, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act, which took that right away and raised the price of a package of birth control pills drastically — from $5 to $10 a month to $40 or $50.

Joan Malin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, said, “The crazy part is that Congress can fix this problem immediately — without cost to taxpayers. Rep. Joseph Crowley recently unveiled stand-alone, bipartisan legislation to restore low-priced birth control at college clinics.”

Crowley (D-N.Y.), who participated in the action, said the rise in birth control prices “really has an impact on people’s lives.” He said it is forcing women to choose between buying contraceptives or paying their rent.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, “It may not seem like a lot of money in the abstract. But if you think about it adding up on a yearly basis, if you think about the folks we’re talking about — students and others — they’re not people who have a lot of money in their pockets, and they are exactly the kind of folks who we want to have birth control for free. That is what we need to bring back.”

Meena Shaw of NYU Voices for Choice urged people to call their congressional representatives to make sure they sign on to the legislation, the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, HR 4054.

Other speakers included Jessica Rivera from Planned Parenthood and former state Sen. Catherine Abate.

jdelgado @cpusa.org